During the six-month breeding season, a female will observe a group of four to six males—"the patch of forest erupts in sound," Schlinger said—and choose one to mate with. The male offers no help in raising the offspring.
Co-authors of the study are Leonida Fusani, a faculty member in the department of biology and evolution at Italy's University of Ferrara and a former postdoctoral scholar under Schlinger, and Martin Wikelski, a director of Germany's Max Planck Institute for Ornithology and a faculty member at Germany's Konstanz University.
The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, as well as by the National Geographic Society.
In earlier research, Fusani conducted high-speed filming of male golden-collared manakins and performed a computer analysis that showed that each male has a unique dance, somewhat similar to how each gymnast performs differently from the others.
Schlinger has studied golden-collared manakins for 16 years because he "was so impressed with their fantastic behavior.
"Here is a very small, 17-gram bird that is living 14 years in the rain forest, telling everybody where they are," Schlinger said. "They are there year after year."
Female golden-collared manakins have a larger visual processing area in the brain than males, Schlinger's previous research has shown, suggesting that females have a fast visual processing speed that enables them to detect slight differences in the male's courtship dance.
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