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Illusions Promote Mating Success in Great Bowerbirds

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Science  20 Jan 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6066, pp. 335-338
DOI: 10.1126/science.1212443

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Trick of the Eye of the Beholder

Male bowerbirds build elaborate bowers, or display areas, that consist of an avenue where the female stands and an arena where the male displays. Males decorate their arenas meticulously with stones, flowers, and found objects. Previous work has shown that these bowers induce forced perspective illusions in the observing females. Now Kelley and Endler (p. 335; see the Perspective by Anderson) show that mating success is based on components of the illusion, rather than the physical nature of the bower. Thus, females choose their mates based on a visual illusion painstakingly constructed and maintained by the displaying male.

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