Welklin, Joseph: Travel Grant - 2017-2018

College of Arts and Sciences
Neurobiology and Behavior
Project Title: 
Poor bedfellows: the cost of producing a sexual signal in a competitive social environment
Project Abstract: 
An organism’s social environment is an often-overlooked component of sexual selection. In Australian fairy-wrens, sexual selection is most prominent when males that molt into nuptial plumage early in the non-breeding season obtain high extra-pair paternity rates in the breeding season (Brouwer et al. 2011, Cockburn et al. 2008). Early molt often coincides with cold wintertime temperatures and increased mortality, leading researchers to propose that only high quality males are able to complete nuptial molt and survive cold winter nights (Cockburn et al. 2008). But fairy-wrens are known to roost together at night, often huddling together for warmth (Rowley and Russell 1997), meaning group size and group composition have the potential to influence timing of molt and survival. In this application I propose to use an experimental study to measure the role that social environment at the roost site plays in determining sexual selection in Red-backed Fairy-wrens.