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Population Dynamics of Indigo Buntings and the Evolution of Avian Polygyny

Michael Carey and Val Nolan, Jr.
Evolution
Vol. 33, No. 4 (Dec., 1979), pp. 1180-1192
DOI: 10.2307/2407476
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2407476
Page Count: 13
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Population Dynamics of Indigo Buntings and the Evolution of Avian Polygyny
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Abstract

A widely accepted model for the evolution of avian polygyny describes ecological conditions under which polygyny is likely to occur and specifies behavioral and morphological characteristics expected to evolve in polygynous populations. Characteristics of the indigo bunting (Passerina cyanea), whose mating system was unknown, conform to most of these expectations. Therefore we tested the model's predictive power by studying indigo buntings on two nearby but ecologically very different areas in Indiana. Findings support the model. Among territorial males, 10% had two mates simultaneously; others had two successively; most had only one, for all or part of the season; some remained unmated. Mates of polygynists were at least as productive as those of monogamists. Production of young on territories varied according to male success in acquiring and retaining females. The most productive territories, held principally by old males, tended to be concentrated on one study area and were settled earliest by both sexes. Less productive territories, held mostly by yearlings, also were concentrated; they were settled at later dates.

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