Conspicuous Female Ornamentation and Tests of Male Mate Preference in Threespine Sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus)

ECU Author/Contributor (non-ECU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Daniel Shane,Pierotti,Michele E R,Rundle,Howard D.,McKinn Wright (Creator)
East Carolina University (ECU )
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Abstract: Sexual selection drives the evolution of exaggerated male ornaments in many animal species. Female ornamentation is now acknowledged also to be common but is generally lesswell understood. One example is the recently documented red female throat coloration insome threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) populations. Although female sticklebacks often exhibit a preference for red male throat coloration, the possibility of sexual selection on female coloration has been little studied. Using sequential and simultaneousmate choice trials, we examined male mate preferences for female throat color, as well aspelvic spine color and standard length, using wild-captured threespine sticklebacks fromthe Little Campbell River, British Columbia. In a multivariate analysis, we found no evidencefor a population-level mate preference in males, suggesting the absence of directional sexual selection on these traits arising from male mate choice. Significant variation was detectedamong males in their preference functions, but this appeared to arise from differences intheir mean responsiveness across mating trials and not from variation in the strength (i.e.,slope) of their preference, suggesting the absence of individual-level preferences as well.When presented with conspecific intruder males, male response decreased as intruder redthroat coloration increased, suggesting that males can discriminate color and other aspectsof phenotype in our experiment and that males may use these traits in intrasexual interactions. The results presented here are the first to explicitly address male preference for female throat color in threespine sticklebacks.

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Language: English
Date: 2015

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