Relative importance of male and territory quality in pairing success of male rock ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus)

Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
By:  and 



We studied pairing success in male rock ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus) in northern Alaska to learn whether males obtaining more females possessed phenotypic traits that influenced female choice directly, whether these traits permitted males to obtain territories favored by females, or whether both processes occurred. The number of females per male varied from zero to three. Several male and territory traits were significantly correlated with number of females per male. We used multiple regression to obtain a single measure of male quality and a single measure of territory quality. These measures of male and territory quality correlated with each other and with male pairing success. We used path analysis to separate direct effects of male quality on pairing success from indirect effects due to high-quality males obtaining high-quality territories. Both direct and indirect pathways had significant effects on pairing success, and direct and indirect effects of male traits on pairing success were about equal. This study illustrates an analytical approach for estimating the relative importance of direct and indirect causal relationships in natural systems.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Relative importance of male and territory quality in pairing success of male rock ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus)
Series title Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
DOI 10.1007/s002650050571
Volume 45
Issue 5
Year Published 1999
Language English
Publisher Springer
Publisher location Amsterdam, Netherlands
Contributing office(s) Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
Description 5 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
First page 355
Last page 359
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page