Cooperative courtship display in Long-tailed Manakins Chiroxiphia linearis: predictors of courtship success revealed through full characterization of display

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Ornithology





First Page


Last Page



The Pipridae comprise 52 species of manakins with a wide variety of courtship behaviours, ranging from solitary display, to traditional leks, to cooperative display. Long-tailed Manakins (Chiroxiphia linearis) exhibit an exploded lek-breeding system wherein two unrelated males cooperate to perform complex courtship displays for females. Our objectives in this study were to fully characterize the courtship display of Long-tailed Manakins, to evaluate the sequence and stereotypy of the display, and to investigate specific predictors of copulation success. Whereas the display of Long-tailed Manakins has traditionally been divided into two major parts, the hopping display and the butterfly display, we identified and characterized 16 individual display elements within these larger components of the display. We also determined that some aspects of the display are highly structured and stereotypical in performance, such that certain elements of the display are highly likely to be preceded or followed by particular elements. Nevertheless, other aspects of the display were much more flexible in terms of element sequence. We also found that the length and rate of performance of individual display elements were highly variable across displays. We therefore evaluated whether individual elements of the display could predict courtship success. Our results show that a number of highly correlated elements, namely upright postures, bounces, angel flights, and bows, can predict whether a display ends in copulation with a female. This research enhances our understanding of male display behaviour and female choice in Long-tailed Manakins, and may shed some light on the evolution of complex courtship displays in birds.