Katedra zoologie

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Wageningen, The Netherlands: MSc, bird mate preference PDF Tisk Email
MSc thesis opportunity
Behavioural Ecology group, Wageningen University, The Netherlands
Mate preference in great tits - a matter of taste?
We are looking for MSc students to work on an exciting project testing
birds for mate preferences in winter (experiments), and studying
reproductive investment in nesting great tits in the spring (fieldwork).
Female choice for top quality males is expected to result in the evolution
of exaggerated male secondary sexual characters. A strong directional
preference for the 'best' males and their specific heritable traits would
theoretically cause a fast decline in genetic variation among males. In
natural populations under sexual selection however, diversity in ornaments
and genes is still present. How, then, is genetic variation within
populations maintained in the presence of sexual selection?  Our project
proposes that individuals may vary in their mate preference. Variation in
mate preferences may weaken the strong directional selection on ornaments
and thereby it may allow diversity to persist.
Mate preferences
Which characters are important when females choose males? Do males choose
attractive females? Which characters are important to them? Do individuals
vary in their preference? Does this variation depend on the choosers'
own characteristics?  Starting from December 2014 or January  2015
Reproductive investment
Which characters influence reproductive investment? Do individuals find a
partner with characters that meet their previously tested preferences? How
does the difference between partner preference and the actual partner
influence reproductive investment and extra-pair paternity?  Starting from
March or April 2015
For more information contact Lies Zandberg (
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Camilla Hinde (
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