Ethology and Sexual Selection Mechanisms
I have long term interests in the evolution of avian behavior,
including polygynous courtship display, breeding systems,
communication, and nest architecture and construction. I am
interested in using phylogenetic hypothesis to test hypotheses
about behavioral evolution, and in using behavioral variation
to reconstruct phylogenetic hypotheses. Most of these studies
have focused on a clade of highly diverse perching birds–
the suboscine passeriforms. The suboscines include an extraordinary
ecological radiation in the Neotropics and a modest radiation
in the Old World tropics.
My previous research in this area has focused primarily on
behavioral evolution of a clade of Neotropical suboscine birds–
the manakins (Pipridae). Manakins are a clade of 42 species
that are well known for their polygynous, lek breeding systems,
striking sexually dimorphic plumages, and elaborate courtship
display behavior. I produced the first phylogenetic hypothesis
for the manakin clade based on syringeal morphology (Prum
1992), and used this phylogenetic hypothesis to investigate
the homology of display behavior elements and the evolution
of complex behavioral repertoires (Prum 1990a); phylogenetic
patterns in the evolution of alternative avian breeding systems
(Prum 1994a); the evolution of alternative nonvocal mechanisms
of acoustic communication (Prum 1998); and phylogenetic tests
of alternative intersexual selection mechanisms (Prum 1997).
These analyses have documented the congruence between phylogeny
and patterns of behavioral diversification, the evolutionary
patterns in breeding system evolution, and the probable role
of arbitrary Fisherian mechanisms of intersexual selection
in trait macroevolution within highly polygynous clades.
I have also expanded the manakin research program to examine
the phylogeny and social behavior evolution of the more diverse
sister group to the manakins– the cotingas (Cotingidae).
In contrast with the primitively lekking manakin clade, the
extensive social and ecological diversity of the cotingas
will permit me to test hypotheses concerning the origins of
polygynous social systems and consequent social signaling
systems. I have been examining syringeal and other morphological
variation within the cotingid clade to produce a phylogenetic
hypothesis for the group, and I also have an expanding mitochondrial
DNA sequences data set for the clade (Prum et al. 2000). I
plan to use this phylogenetic hypothesis to test hypotheses
about the correlated evolution of cotinga breeding and social
systems in response to response to frugivorous and insectivorous
diets in the clade. I will also examine phylogenetic patterns
in the diversification of visual and acoustic modes of intersexual
advertisement, sexual size dimorphism, and delayed plumage
maturation within the cotingas.
I am also interested in the evolution of nest architecture.
Dr. Kristof Zyskowski, a former Ph.D. student, and I have
worked on a phylogenetic analysis of nest architecture and
construction in the Neotropical ovenbirds (Furnariidae; Zyskowski
and Prum 1999). I am also studying the ontogeny, homology,
and evolution of nest architectural features in the Malagasy
asities and Asian broadbills (Eurylaimidae).
In previous papers, I have documented that intersexual selection
can create opportunities for trait/preference evolution. Contrary
to most behavioral autecology, these phylogenetic data document
the importance of Fisherian or arbitrary intersexual selection
on macroevolution of trait diversity within clades (Prum 1997).
I have previously proposed some macroevolutionary test of
alternative intersexual selection models (Prum 1997), I am
eager to pursue these studies to generate explicit macroevolutionary
models of intersexual selection processes in collaboration
with theoretical population geneticists.
Prum, R. O. 1985. Observations of the White-fronted Manakin
(Pipra serena) in Suriname. Auk 102: 384-387.
Prum, R. O. 1986. The displays of the White-throated Manakin
Corapipo gutturalis in Suriname. Ibis 128: 91-102.
Prum, R. O., and Johnson, A. E. 1987. Display behavior, foraging
ecology and systematics of the Golden-winged Manakin (Masius
chrysopterus). Wilson Bulletin 99: 521-539.
Prum, R. O., and Lanyon, W. E. 1989. Monophyly and phylogeny
of the Schiffornis group (Tyrannoidea). Condor 91: 444-461.
Prum, R. O. 1990. Phylogenetic analysis of the evolution
of display behavior in the neotropical manakins (Aves: Pipridae).
Ethology 84: 202-231.
Prum, R. O. 1990. A test of the monophyly of the manakins
(Pipridae) and cotingas (Cotingidae) based on morphology.
Occasional Papers of the Museum of Zoology, University of
Michigan 722: 1-44.
Prum, R. O. 1992. Syringeal morphology, phylogeny, and evolution
of the Neotropical manakins (Aves: Pipridae). American Museum
of Natural History Novitates 3043: 1-65.
Prum, R. O. 1994. Species status of the White-fronted Manakin,
Lepidothrix serena (Pipridae), with comments on conservation
biology. Condor 96: 692-702.
Prum, R. O. 1994. Phylogenetic analysis of the evolution
of alternative social behavior in the manakins (Aves: Pipridae).
Evolution 48: 1657-1675.
Mobley, J. A., and Prum, R. O. 1995. Phylogenetic relationships
of the Cinnamon Tyrant, Neopipo cinnamomea, to the Tyrant
Flycatchers (Tyrannidae). Condor 97: 650-662.
Prum, R. O., Kaplan, J. A., and Pierson, J. D. 1996. Display
behavior and natural history of the Yellow-crowned Manakin
(Heterocercus flavivertex: Pipridae). Condor 98: 722-735.
Prum, R. O. 1997. Phylogenetic tests of alternative intersexual
selection mechanisms: macroevolution of male traits in a polygynous
clade (Aves: Pipridae). American Naturalist 149: 668-692.
Prum, R. O., and Razafindratsita, V. R. 1997. Lek behavior
and natural history of the Velvet Asity Philepitta castanea
(Eurylaimidae). Wilson Bulletin 109: 371-392.
Prum, R. O. 1998. Sexual selection and the evolution of mechanical
sound production in manakins (Aves: Pipridae). Animal Behaviour
Zyskowski, K., and Prum, R. O. 1999. Phylogenetic analysis
of nest architecture of the Neotropical ovenbirds (Furnariidae).
Auk 116: 891-911.
Prum, R. O., Rice, N. H., Mobley, J. A., and Dimmick, W.
W. 2000. A preliminary phylogenetic hypothesis for the cotingas
(Cotingidae) based on mitochondrial DNA. Auk 117: 236-241.
Prum, R. O. 2001. A new genus for the Andean green pihas
(Cotingidae). Ibis 143: 307-309.
Bostwick, K. S. and Prum, R. O. 2003. High-speed video of
wing-snapping in two manakin clades (Pipridae: Aves). Journal
of Experimental Biology 206: 3693-3706.
Prum, R. O., and Razafindratsita, V. R. 2003. Philepittinae.
Pp. 1123- 1130, In The Natural History of Madagascar. Eds.
S. M. Goodman and J. P. Benstead. University of Chicago Press,
Bostwick, K. S. and Prum, R. O. 2005. Courting bird sings with stridulating wing feathers. Science 309: 736.
Anciães, M. and Prum, R. O. 2008. Manakin display and visiting behavior: a comparative test of sensory drive. Animal Behaviour 75: 783-790.