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Displays, the physical arrangement of stimuli to form a communicative pattern, are common among animals. They are a form of animal behaviour, linked to survival of the species in various ways. One example of display used by some species can be found in the form of courtship, with the male usually having a striking feature that is distinguished by colour, shape or size, used to attract a female. In other instances, species may exhibit territorial display behaviour, in order to preserve a foraging or hunting territory for its family or group. A third form is exhibited by tournament species in which males will fight in order to gain the 'right' to breed.
Animals may use display behavior for different purposes including threat, courtship and direct competition, for example. An example of courtship display may be the behavior of animals such as the male bowerbird, that builds nests to attract female bowerbirds. Other male animals perform courtship dances trying to show their advantage over other males. Another good example is the male peacock showing his big ornamented tail. As mentioned, animals may use display behavior during direct competition between them for a resource of a kind. In many cases, when two animals need the same resource (food, territory, females), a conflict may arise which, if escalated into a fight, may cause damage to one or all involved. In these cases, using a display behavior that allows the animal to estimate the opponent's fighting ability, may save the costs and risks of fighting an unnecessary battle. Examples of this behavior may be found in the world of beetles, birds, mammals and more.
- Humans might select clothing or affect types of speech in order to attract attention. This may involve conspicuous consumption.
- The Papuan big men would stage elaborate feasts to show the extent of their influence and power. The potlatches of the Pacific Northwest were held for much of the same effect.
Tournament species in zoology are those species in which members of one sex (usually males) compete in order to mate. In tournament species, most members of the competing sex never win the competitions and never mate, but almost all members of the other sex do mate with the small group of winners.[How to reference and link to summary or text]
Since in the vast majority of tournament species the males compete, the competing sex will here be referred to as "the males". Tournament species are characterized by fierce male-to-male competition; males which are significantly larger (up to three times the mass of the female) or possess more natural weaponry or are more gaudily decorated than females; by high variability in male reproductive success, as winning males mate with many females and losing males mate with few or none or die in the competition itself; and by high promiscuity in both sexes, which occasions small or no male parental investment.
In some species, the competition between males involves displays in which females choose winning males; these contests are called leks. In other species, competition is more direct, in the form of fighting between males.
Examples of tournament species include peafowl, in which the peahens judge peacocks on the size and coloration of their large and gaudy tail, several species of antelope, in which males use their antlers to fight one another, and elephant seals, the males of which use their large size to fight one another.
In a small number of species, females compete for males; these include species of jacana, species of phalarope, and the spotted hyena. In all these cases, the female of the species shows stereotypically "male" traits: larger bodies, aggressiveness, or even maintenance of a multiple-male "harem".
Most species fall on a continuum between tournament species and pair-bonding species.
- Animal courtship display
- Deimatic display
- Mullerian mimicry
- Sexual selection
- Threat display
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