Pairing Behavior of the Monogamous King Quail, Coturnix chinensis

TitelPairing Behavior of the Monogamous King Quail, Coturnix chinensis
MedientypJournal Article
Jahr der Veröffentlichung2016
AutorenAdkins-Regan, E.
Seitennummerierunge0155877 -

Animals with socially monogamous mating systems are valuable for discovering proximate mechanisms of prosocial behavior and close social relationships. Especially powerful are comparisons between related species that differ in monogamous tendency. Birds are the most socially monogamous vertebrates. Thus far most research on mechanisms of pairing has used zebra finches, which do not have a relative with a different mating system, however. The goal of the experiments reported here was to develop a new comparative avian system by studying the pairing behavior of a reportedly strongly monogamous quail, the king quail (Coturnix chinensis), a species in the same clade as the less monogamous Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica), the subject of much prior research. In Experiment 1 male-female pairs of king quail housed together were initially avoidant or aggressive but most rapidly progressed to allopreening and huddling. A separation-reunion paradigm reliably elicited both of these behaviors in males that had cohabited for one week. In Experiment 2 the allopreening and huddling behavior of males in cohabiting pairs was highly selective, and a majority of the males were aggressive toward a familiar female that was not the cohabitation partner. In Experiment 3 males were separated from their female cohabitation partners for 9–10 weeks and then given two-choice tests. All but one male spent more time near an unfamiliar female, which may have reflected aggression and shows recognition of and memory for the past pairing experience. Thus king quail show robust, selective and easy to measure pairing behavior that can be reliably elicited with simple separation-reunion testing procedures. Copulation is rarely seen during tests. The behavior of king quail is a striking contrast to that of Japanese quail, providing a new comparative system for discovering mechanisms of behavior related to close social relationships and monogamy.


Wissenschaft ist der Glaube an die Unwissenheit des 'Wissenschaftlichen Konsenses'. {frei nach Richard Feynman}