Mate choice and mate attraction are important behaviours influencing the evolution of elaborate traits. It is possible that male general cognitive performance plays an important role in sexual attractiveness, but there has been no direct test of this hypothesis. Satin bowerbirds, Ptilonorhynchus violaceus, are an excellent species for testing this hypothesis because their complex male courtship, including use of decorations of certain colours, suggests a selective advantage to individuals with superior cognitive abilities. We used males' strong aversion to red objects on their bowers to design two unique problem-solving tests. We presented males with these problems to test the hypothesis that males that are better problem-solvers have higher mating success. We confirmed this prediction and demonstrate that neither age nor motivational level significantly influenced problem-solving scores. Our findings suggest that general cognitive performance is related to male mating success. This is the first evidence that individuals with better problem-solving abilities are more sexually attractive.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology