Problem-solving males become more attractive to female budgerigars.


Key Laboratory of Animal Ecology and Conservation Biology, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China. [Email]


Darwin proposed that mate choice might contribute to the evolution of cognitive abilities. An open question is whether observing the cognitive skills of an individual makes it more attractive as a mate. In this study, we demonstrated that initially less-preferred budgerigar males became preferred after females observed that these males, but not the initially preferred ones, were able to solve extractive foraging problems. This preference shift did not occur in control experiments in which females observed males with free access to food or in which females observed female demonstrators solving these extractive foraging problems. Our results suggest that direct observation of problem-solving skills increases male attractiveness and that this could contribute to the evolution of the cognitive abilities underlying such skills.