Detailed descriptions of behavior patterns are a major objective of ethology, because they serve as the basis for identifying the elements that constitute the behavioral component of the phenotype. In regard to avian courtship displays, the lack of detailed studies has limited the scope of modern ethological investigations. Recent advances in video technology have greatly improved the ability to analyze complex avian behaviors. I examined the ethology of courtship and mating in Carola's Parotia (Parotia carolae) using a modern approach intended to facilitate incorporation into existing bioinformatics databases. The questions addressed are as follows. (1) What are the courtship and mating behaviors of wild Carola's Parotias? (2) How are these behaviors structured? And (3) what are the units that constitute complex patterns of behavior? I used digital video to thoroughly characterize two wild populations of Carola's Parotias in Papua New Guinea. The results present a detailed picture of the species' complex courtship ethology, including description of 20 behaviors and the lower-level structure (or “anatomy”) of male displays, which alone comprise 58 distinct elements. The modular nature of displays is demonstrated through instances in which various units and subunits are used recurrently, differentially employed, and added or deleted.
Etología del Cortejo en Parotia carolae