Pair formation (biology)

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In biology, pair formation describes the formation of a long-term bond between two sexual partners. It is viewed in a broader sense as part of courtship . It includes a species-specific and ritualized behavior that, depending on the species, can last from a few minutes to a few weeks.

Pairing has been studied very carefully for a number of animal species. However, their process is very individual, so that it is described below using an example.

Pair formation in the gray goose

The pair formation in the gray goose has been extensively investigated by Konrad Lorenz and his students. In this species, courtship is initiated by the ganter. Ganter courtiers approach unmarried females in a pose in which the head and neck are drawn in at an angle. If a ganter encounters a female who does not evade the advertisement, he stays close to her. While observing a spatial distance, it imitates all of the goose's movements. As a second form of movement, the ganter with its slightly curved neck points its beak in the direction of the chosen female, but without pointing directly at her.

In the second phase, the ganter behaves in an impressive manner, during which it often flies open and presents with open wings in front of the goose before and after the flight. During this time it also shows increased aggression and attacks both conspecifics and alien animals.

The pair formation is completed when the partners join in the so-called triumphant shouting, which the pair of geese sound when they have successfully fended off a potential opponent.

The mating takes place independently of the pairing. It is also preceded by ritualized behavior.