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Arena Birds: Sexual Selection and Behavior.

Recently, considerable attention has been focused on sexual selection in lekking species. In this book, Johnsgard reviews current and historical studies of the role of sexual selection in the evolution of avian arena behavior. This work represents the first review devoted exclusively to avian arena behavior since Payne's monograph (Payne, R. B. 1984. Sexual selection, lek and arena behavior and size dimorphism in birds. Ornithological Monographs 33) and incorporates many of the theoretical and empirical advances in the 1980's and early 1990's. The book is divided into two main sections. The two introductory chapters are devoted to discussing the development of sexual selection theory and its application to avian mating systems, specifically the lek mating system. The remaining 10 chapters are primarily descriptive, concentrating on variation in breeding plumage and behaviors of males from several promiscuous and polygynous species. The 27 page glossary will be helpful for readers not familiar with the theoretical literature and its terminology. Some readers will be frustrated with the index, which provides no subheadings and is incomplete. However, the information summarizing the vast array of arena bird species is well worth the effort of locating it within the chapters. All chapters are beautifully illustrated by the author with 70 plates of informative pen and ink drawings of mating plumage and displays. In addition, there are 38 color photos exhibiting plumage and display behaviors of a subset of the arena species.

In the first of the two theoretical chapters, Johnsgard undertakes the difficult task of reviewing the development of sexual selection theory from Darwin's initial coining of the phrase through the early 1990's. The review is fairly comprehensive and includes current empirical studies which support various models of sexual selection in avian species. A useful component of the chapter is a series of tables summarizing theoretical hypotheses which are modified from a variety of published literature.

The second theoretical chapter begins with a careful discussion of prevailing definitions used in describing arena or lek (which the author defines as interchangeable terms) behavior and display sites. Johnsgard uses a definition of arena or lek behavior that is more inclusive than most, so some readers will be surprised at species included in the subsequent descriptive chapters. He includes all non-monogamous birds in which males show some degree of clustering in his definition of lekking or arena species. This liberal definition leads to the classification and discussion of over 150 avian species which exhibit arena or lek behavior. The first part of the chapter has two tables (passerine and non-passerine) listing arena-forming species around the world. The chapter also contains sections on the role of sexual selection and natural selection in speciation and lek formation. I found the last two sections of the chapter disappointing. Johnsgard states that lekking species are notoriously prone to hybridization. However, his tables and examples contain no discussion of the relative frequency of hybridization rates in monogamous species that would allow a comparison of the rates among mating systems. In addition, his tables and text do not include the degree of geographical and temporal overlap in mating sites. Finally, his review of theoretical explanations for the hybridization phenomena contains only one citation from the past three decades, relying on literature from the 1950's and early 1960's, and fails to summarize recent theoretical and empirical studies. The last section of this chapter discusses theoretical models developed primarily in the 1980's about the evolution of lekking behavior. However, unlike the previous chapter, this discussion is a disappointment because Johnsgard provides no review of the recent numerous empirical studies supporting various hypotheses.

The strength of this volume lies in the remaining chapters where Johnsgard does an excellent job of discussing not only well documented lekking species (e.g., prairie grouse, birds-of-paradise, cock-of-the-rock, manakins, ruffs) but also includes some chapters on less-known arena birds with remarkable displays. I especially enjoyed and recommend reading the description of tragopan mating displays (colorful galliform birds found in the Himalayan mountains). Additional chapters include descriptions of bustards (arid-adapted Old World species); kakapos (a New Zealand nocturnal parrot), hummingbirds, and lyrebirds (Australian mimics); and African long-tailed whydahs and widowbirds. The author's broad definition of arena behavior justifies his inclusion of two chapters concerning ducks and bower birds. In all chapters where applicable, Johnsgard suggests evolutionary trends in mating systems and display behaviors within groups, especially in the manakin and bird-of-paradise chapters. One of the few disappointments in the descriptive chapters is the lack of comparisons in evolutionary trends among groups, a topic that would have been appropriate for a summary chapter. Finally, although the author is careful to give information about male mating behaviors and size and color dimorphisms between the sexes, little attention is given to female mating behaviors.

Overall, this book will make a welcome addition to an ornithologist's and/or evolutionary biologist's reference library. The book is not meant for use as a primary text in the classroom; however, its background information and illustrated examples are highly useful for discussions of avian mating behavior at any class level.

JESSICA R. YOUNG HAMPDEN-SYDNEY COLLEGE Department of Biology Hampden-Sydney, Virginia 23943
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Author:Young, Jessica R.
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 1, 1995
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