ANIMAL BEHAVIOR

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Science  23 Dec 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6319, pp. 1547-1548
DOI: 10.1126/science.354.6319.1547-f

Ross's gulls court other species when their own species is hard to find.

CREDIT: M MAFTEI ET AL., ARCTIC 69, 341 (DECEMBER 2016)

For species living near the poles, the breeding season is short and accelerated, leaving little time to be choosy about finding a mate. Such challenges are increased in species with relatively small numbers or that have broadly distributed mating colonies. Maftei et al. observed mating behavior in the rare and poorly known Ross's gull (Rhodostethia rosea) at a remote Arctic breeding ground for 3 years. They found that both males and females regularly courted and displayed to individuals from other species. Though this strategy did not result in hybrid pairings, it did seem to help the Ross's gulls develop their mating displays, which may improve their performance when it really counts and members of their own species are available.

Arctic 69, 341 (2016).

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