The importance of synchronization in courtship

Male ring dove perching on a window box

Multimodal signals may carry additional information which is missing when component signals are presented separately. We used audiovisual playback of male ring doves’ courtship to investigate female response to display stimuli differing in their audiovisual timing. We created a shifted stimulus where audio was shifted relative to video by a fixed value and a jittered stimulus, where each call was moved randomly along the visual channel. We presented females with a same stimulus type, that is, control, shifted, or jittered, for 7 days. We recorded their behavior and assessed pre- and post-test blood estradiol concentration. We found that playback exposure increased estradiol levels, confirming that this technique can be efficiently used to study doves’ sexual communication. Additionally, chasing behavior (indicating sexual stimulation) increased over experimental days only in the control condition, suggesting a role of multimodal timing on female response. This stresses the importance of signal configuration in multimodal communication, as additional information is likely to be contained in the temporal association between modalities.

You can access a full version of the article here

Funded by the Vienna Science and technology Fund (WWTF) grant N. CS18-021

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