Behaviour 2019
Social Experience, Expectations, and Song Preferences
Mary R Elson, Michael H Goldstein. Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, United States

In zebra finches, courtship and pair maintenance is influenced by male song quality and female preferences. What is the role of social experience in female preference for song quality? Previous social experience, specifically pairing status, influences female song preferences. Females initially prefer high quality song, but after pairing prefer their mate’s song. Here we assessed paired and unpaired female preferences for well-learned male song. Using a playback paradigm, we found that unpaired females more quickly showed a preference for well-learned song, but this preference was not maintained over a two-day test period. In contrast, paired females did not show a song preference until the end of the second day. Preliminary analyses show that this pattern was present across several behavioral responses, including female calling, wing-strokes, and fluff-ups. Our findings indicate different social expectations between paired and unpaired females. We conclude that motivation for song in paired females is more driven by their desire for a social partner than by song quality.