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Male characteristics used by females in choosing mates for good genes may also reflect outcomes of male-male competition. The extravagantly ornamented Wild Turkey Meleagris gallopavo is an appropriate species in which to test this relationship. Wild Turkeys have a highly competitive social system in which combat and other dominance interactions between males are common throughout the year. In this study dyadic dominance trials between unfamiliar captive males demonstrated that a male's relative snood length, a character previously shown to be used by females in mate choice, is also predictive of the outcome of male-male competition. Complementary trials using artificial males confirmed that live males assess the snood length of potential competitors independent of other male characteristics. In an earlier study snood length was shown to be negatively correlated with coccidian parasite load and positively correlated with male condition in free-living Wild Turkeys.
Journal of Avian Biology © 1997 Nordic Society Oikos