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Johnsgard Paul A. Arena Birds: Sexual Selection and Behavior

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Johnsgard Paul A. Arena Birds: Sexual Selection and Behavior
Smithsonian, 1994. — 384 p. — ISBN-13 978-1560983156.
In 1871, more than a decade after he unveiled the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin laid out the principles of sexual selection. He suggested that alongside the traits that enable species to survive are those that confer sexual advantage on individuals within the species and thus insure greater transmission to offspring of those individuals' genes.
Focusing on some of the most resplendent birds in the avian class - among them ducks, pheasants, grouse, manakins, whydahs, and birds-of-paradise — Paul Johnsgard describes sexual selection in arena-breeding birds, species and groups whose males gather for competitive sexual display in open spaces called arenas or leks. Johnsgard explains Darwin's theory that selection works on the basis of either male dominance - a male wins access to females by bettering his peers - or female choice, in which females survey the field of males and select the most prized mate.
Summarizing a vast body of literature, Johnsgard reviews the many elaborations and implications of these theories, such as whether a male most attractive to females is also the most fit for survival (a question of "truth in advertising"). He details for several species and groups the components of mating behavior, including male plumages, strutting, and distinctive calling - sometimes audible over a kilometer away.
Arena Birds encompasses those birds that exhibit arena or near-arena behavior, as well as those that build bowers for reproductive signaling purposes. Including a glossary of terms, this book will serve as a basic reference for ornithologists and fascinating reading for anyone interested in sexual relations in the animal kingdom.
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