Sexual selection may lead to reproductive isolation between populations through divergence in female mate choice, and population differentiation driven by female mate choice is expected to produce pre- but not post-mating isolation. We tested these hypotheses by looking at whether allopatric populations of the Amarillo (Girardinichthys multiradiatus), a sexually dimorphic viviparous fish with effective female choice, (i) have undergone phenotypical differentiation that may be attributed to divergence in female mate choice, and (ii) are already separated by pre- and/or post-mating reproductive barriers. We found substantial divergence in morphological traits which are the target of female mate choice, and in male courtship behaviour. Strong female preferences for homogametic males indicate substantial and symmetric pre-copulatory isolation, but the few successful heterogametic crosses produced in confinement yielded litters of the same size as those produced in homogametic matings, suggesting that post-copulatory isolation between populations is non-existent or weak. It appears that the studied populations have undergone incipient speciation with a pattern that is consistent with speciation driven by sexual selection, yet further work should assess whether divergence in female preferences has promoted male phenotypic differentiation or whether variation in male attributes has driven divergence in female preferences.
Girardinichthys multiradiatus; reproductive isolation; sexual selection; pre-mating isolation; population differentiation
Mating success is often determined by multiple traits, but why this occurs is largely unknown. Much attention has been paid to female preferences for multiple traits, but surprisingly few researchers have addressed the possibility that multiple traits are important because they serve different functions in female choice and male–male competition. Differential trait function could result from a conflict of interest between the sexes or from constraints forcing the sexes to pay attention to different traits. I show that traits determined at distinct life-history stages differ in their importance in female choice and male–male competition in a water boatman Sigara falleni. Juvenile conditions determined body and foreleg pala size and were the main determinants of mating success under female choice, whereas adult conditions determined body mass and influenced mating success when male competition was included. This differential use of condition-dependent traits under the two selection regimes appeared to arise partly from a conflict between the sexes, since the two selection forces (female choice and male competition) conflict for selection on pala size, and partly from constraints, as females appeared unable to assess adult condition.
condition dependence; Corixidae; mate choice; multiple cues; sexual selection; Sigara falleni
While studies of sexual selection focus primarily on female choice and male–male competition, males should also exert mate choice in order to maximize their reproductive success. We examined male mate choice in mosquitofish, Gambusia holbrooki, with respect to female size and female dominance. We found that the number of mating attempts made by a male was predicted by the dominance rank of females in a group, with dominant females attracting more mating attempts than subordinates. The number of mating attempts made by males was independent of the female size. The observed bias in the number of mating attempts towards dominant females may be driven either by straightforward male mate choice, since dominance and female fecundity are often closely related, or via the dominant females mediating male mating behaviour by restricting their access to subordinate females.
mate choice; fitness; dominance; hierarchy; fecundity
Models of age-related mate choice predict female preference for older males as they have proven survival ability. However, these models rarely address differences in sperm age and male mating history when evaluating the potential benefits to females from older partners. We used a novel experimental design to assess simultaneously the relative importance of these three parameters in the hide beetle, Dermestes maculatus. In a two-part experiment we first explored age-related male mating success and subsequently examined the consequences of male age, sperm age and male mating history on female fecundity and fertilization success. In a competitive mating environment, intermediate-age males gained significantly higher mating success than younger or older males. To test the consequences for females of aged-related male mating success, a second set of females were mated to males varying in age (young, intermediate-age and old), in numbers of matings and in timing of the most recent mating. We found that male age had a significant impact on female fecundity and fertilization success. Females mated to intermediate-age males laid more eggs and attained consistently higher levels of fertilization success than females with young and old mates. A male's previous mating history determined his current reproductive effort; virgin males spent longer in copula than males with prior mating opportunities. However, differences in copulation duration did not translate into increased fecundity or fertilization success. There was also little evidence to suggest that fertilization success was dependent on the age of a male's sperm. The experiment highlights the potential direct benefits accrued by females through mating with particular aged males. Such benefits are largely ignored by traditional viability models of age-related male mating success.
The classical view of mammalian mating competition focuses on combat and threat. By contrast, field studies have revealed that male mating success in some species is more strongly determined by mate location ability than by physical dominance. In thirteen-lined ground squirrels, competition in locating oestrous females is exacerbated by sperm competition that favours the first male to mate with a female. We used a female-removal experiment to identify the distinguishing characteristics of males that were the first at finding and mating with females. Each focal female was observed the day before she entered oestrus; the identities of males that made contact with her and the locations of their interactions were recorded. The following morning the females were temporarily removed, and we monitored male search behaviour in their absence. Males that arrived first were those that had spent more time with the female the previous day relative to their rivals. Time invested the day before, in turn, was highly correlated with male search persistence and familiarity with the female's likely whereabouts. These results demonstrate that differential fertilization success can arise from information asymmetries among males: the advantaged individuals are those that have greater a priori knowledge of the reproductive state and spatial locations of prospective mates than rivals.
In a number of species males damage females during copulation, but the reasons for this remain unclear. It may be that males are trying to manipulate female mating behaviour or their life histories. Alternatively, damage may be a side-effect of male-male competition. In the black scavenger or dung fly Sepsis cynipsea (Diptera: Sepsidae) mating reduces female survival, apparently because males wound females during copulation. However, this damage does not seem to relate to attempted manipulation of female reproduction by males. Here we tested the hypothesis that harming females during mating is an incidental by-product of characters favoured during pre-copulatory male-male competition. We assessed whether males and their sons vary genetically in their ability to obtain matings and harm females, and whether more successful males were also more damaging. We did this by ranking males' mating success in paired competitions across several females whose longevity under starvation was subsequently measured.
As previously reported, our results show mating is costly for female S. cynipsea. However, variance in female longevity was not explained by male identity, family, body size, number of previous copulations, or copulation duration. Nevertheless, there was a positive correlation between the harm fathers inflicted on their mates (affecting female longevity) and the harm sons inflicted on theirs. Additionally, family identity significantly influenced male copulation success.
Our results indicate a heritable component of some yet unspecified male trait(s) that influence harm and mating success. However, there was no relationship between copulation success of fathers or sons and the mean longevity of their mates. We therefore found no support for harm being a side effect of traits favoured in pre-copulatory male-male competition.
Female crickets can potentially gain both direct and indirect benefits from mating multiple times with different males. Most studies have only examined the effects of small numbers of matings, although female crickets are capable of mating many times. The goal of this paper is to examine the direct and indirect benefits of mating large numbers of times for female reproductive success. In a previous experiment, female Gryllus vocalis were found to gain diminishing direct benefits from mating large numbers of times. In this study I attempt to determine whether mating large numbers of times yields similar diminishing returns on female indirect benefits. Virgin female Gryllus vocalis crickets were assigned to mate five, ten or 15 times with either the same or different males. Females that mated more times gained direct benefits in terms of laying more eggs and more fertilized eggs. Females that mated with different males rather than mating repeatedly with the same male did not have higher offspring hatching success, a result that is contrary to other published results comparing female reproductive success with repeated versus different partners. These results suggest that females that mate large numbers of times fail to gain additional genetic benefits from doing so.
Polyandry; genetic benefits; direct benefits; hatchability; field cricket
The Darwin–Bateman paradigm recognizes competition among males for access to multiple mates as the main driver of sexual selection. Increasingly, however, females are also being found to benefit from multiple mating so that polyandry can generate competition among females for access to multiple males, and impose sexual selection on female traits that influence their mating success. Polyandry can reduce a male's ability to monopolize females, and thus weaken male focused sexual selection. Perhaps the most important effect of polyandry on males arises because of sperm competition and cryptic female choice. Polyandry favours increased male ejaculate expenditure that can affect sexual selection on males by reducing their potential reproductive rate. Moreover, sexual selection after mating can ameliorate or exaggerate sexual selection before mating. Currently, estimates of sexual selection intensity rely heavily on measures of male mating success, but polyandry now raises serious questions over the validity of such approaches. Future work must take into account both pre- and post-copulatory episodes of selection. A change in focus from the products of sexual selection expected in males, to less obvious traits in females, such as sensory perception, is likely to reveal a greater role of sexual selection in female evolution.
Bateman gradient; direct and indirect benefits; mating competition; sex roles; sperm competition; variation in reproductive success
In most animal species, males are predicted to compete for reproductive opportunities, while females are expected to choose between potential mates. However, when males’ rate of reproduction is constrained, or females vary widely in ‘quality’, male mate choice is also predicted to occur. Such conditions exist in the promiscuous mating system of feral Soay sheep on St Kilda, Scotland, where a highly synchronized mating season, intense sperm competition and limitations on sperm production constrain males’ potential reproductive rate, and females vary substantially in their ability to produce successful offspring. We show that, consistent with predictions, competitive rams focus their mating activity and siring success towards heavier females with higher inclusive fitness. To our knowledge, this is the first time that male mate choice has been identified and shown to lead to assortative patterns of parentage in a natural mammalian system, and occurs despite fierce male–male competition for mates. An additional consequence of assortative mating in this population is that lighter females experience a series of unstable consorts with less adept rams, and hence are mated by a greater number of males during their oestrus. We have thus also identified a novel male-driven mechanism that generates variation in female promiscuity, which suggests that the high levels of female promiscuity in this system are not part of an adaptive female tactic to intensify post-copulatory competition between males.
sexual selection; sperm competition; mate guarding; optimal insemination period; horn size; body size
'Good genes' models assume that females can use a signal such as mating effort to assess a male's lifetime fitness. Inferring long-term performance from short-term behavioural observations can be unreliable, and repeated sampling may be needed for more accurate assessment of males. Additionally, if sexual advertisement is viewed as a life-history trait subject to trade-offs, reliable comparison of mates should yield information on all life-history components rather than on one trait value in one season. We show that in the lekking black grouse (Tetrao tetrix), a male's success is best explained by assuming that females are informed of the past history of males up to the beginning of the study (eight years). Much of this extremely lasting 'memory' can be attributed to females observing long-term outcomes of male–male competition: current territory position is the only momentarily observable variable that has high power in predicting female choice, and it correlates to a male's past lekking effort on a cumulative lifetime scale. We conclude that females can use territory position as a signal that conveys information of a male's lifetime performance that combines lekking effort and longevity. Females may thus overcome the problem of male allocations varying in time, without the need to pay costs associated with repeated sampling.
Male bushcrickets transfer a spermatophore at mating that consists of a sperm-containing ampulla and a sperm-free mass, the spermatophylax, that is consumed by the female during insemination. The costs of spermatophore production for males and benefits of consumption for females result in reversals in courtship roles in nutrient limited populations that increase both the risk and intensity of sperm competition. Here we show that under conditions characteristic of courtship role reversal, male expenditure on the spermatophore is dependent on female size. When mating with small females, males increase the amount of spermatophylax material and sperm, as expected from the increased sperm competition risk associated with courtship role reversal. However, males reduce the amount of spermatophylax material and sperm transferred to larger females. Since larger females have a higher mating success when competing for nurturant males, the intensity of sperm competition covaries with female size. Reduced ejaculate expenditure under increased sperm competition intensity is in accord with theoretical expectation.
Ejaculate Bush Crickets Sperm Competition Operational Sex Ratio (Osr)
Two very basic ideas in sexual selection are heavily influenced by numbers of potential mates: the evolution of anisogamy, leading to sex role differentiation, and the frequency dependence of reproductive success that tends to equalize primary sex ratios. However, being explicit about the numbers of potential mates is not typical to most evolutionary theory of sexual selection. Here, we argue that this may prevent us from finding the appropriate ecological equilibria that determine the evolutionary endpoints of selection. We review both theoretical and empirical advances on how population density may influence aspects of mating systems such as intrasexual competition, female choice or resistance, and parental care. Density can have strong effects on selective pressures, whether or not there is phenotypic plasticity in individual strategies with respect to density. Mating skew may either increase or decrease with density, which may be aided or counteracted by changes in female behaviour. Switchpoints between alternative mating strategies can be density dependent, and mate encounter rates may influence mate choice (including mutual mate choice), multiple mating, female resistance to male mating attempts, mate searching, mate guarding, parental care, and the probability of divorce. Considering density-dependent selection may be essential for understanding how populations can persist at all despite sexual conflict, but simple models seem to fail to predict the diversity of observed responses in nature. This highlights the importance of considering the interaction between mating systems and population dynamics, and we strongly encourage further work in this area.
sexual selection; population regulation; Allee effect; extinction; phenotypic plasticity
Female preference for males successful in male-male competition is generally assumed to result in mating with high quality males. Here I report results from an experiment disentangling the effects of intra- and intersexual selection in the sand goby, Pomatoschistus minutus, a marine fish that exhibits paternal care. I show that large males are successful in male–male competition, but contrary to what one would expect, dominants are not preferred by females and are not better at taking care of the eggs. Female preference, however, correlated with the subsequent hatching success of the eggs. Thus, female choice selects for good parenting. Hence, direct benefits in the form of superior paternal care can explain female choice in this species, supporting a good parent process of sexual selection. However, choosing on the outcome of male–male competition does not enable females to mate with the 'best' males.
Male–Male Competition Dominance Female Choice Paternal Care Direct Benefits Pomatoschistus Minutus
The central question addressed by most studies of sperm competition is: 'what determines which male's sperm are used at fertilization?' Empirical and theoretical studies that address this question have traditionally focused on adaptations which enhance male fertilization success while treating the female as a receptacle in which sperm competition is played out. Here we provide evidence which suggests that female genotype strongly influences the outcome of sperm competition. When the sperm of two males are in competition the proportion of offspring fathered by the second male to mate (P2) was found to be highly repeatable only if the male pair were mated to three different, but genetically similar females (full-sisters to each other; unrelated to either of the males). In contrast, if a male pair were mated to three females that were unrelated then P2 was either non-repeatable or marginally repeatable. We also show that male success in sperm competition is determined, to a large extent, by gamete and/or male–female compatibility. This conclusion is derived from the observation that P2 was repeatable among full-sisters mated to different, yet genetically similar male pairings, whilst P2 was non-repeatable among full-sisters mated to different, genetically distinct male pairings.
Female Genotype Sperm Competition Callosobruchus Maculatus Male–Female Compatibility Sperm Precedence
Females of many taxa often copulate with multiple males and incite sperm competition. On the premise that males of high genetic quality are more successful in sperm competition, it has been suggested that females may benefit from polyandry by accruing ‘good genes’ for their offspring. Laboratory studies have shown that multiple mating can increase female fitness through enhanced embryo viability, and have exposed how polyandry influences the evolution of the ejaculate. However, such studies often do not allow for both female mate choice and male–male competition to operate simultaneously. Here, I took house mice (Mus domesticus) from selection lines that had been evolving with (polygamous) and without (monogamous) sperm competition for 16 generations and, by placing them in free-ranging enclosures for 11 weeks, forced them to compete for access to resources and mates. Parentage analyses revealed that female reproductive success was not influenced by selection history, but there was a significant paternity bias towards males from the polygamous selection lines. Therefore, I show that female house mice benefit from polyandry by producing sons that achieve increased fitness in a semi-natural environment.
sperm competition; house mice; genetic benefits; experimental evolution
Evolutionary theory predicts that female intrasexual competition will occur when males of high genetic quality are considered to be a resource. It is probable that women compete in terms of attractiveness since this is one of the primary criteria used by men when selecting mates. Furthermore, because hormones influence the mate-selection process, they may also mediate competition. One competitive strategy that women use is derogation--any act intended to decrease a rival's perceived value. To investigate intrasexual competition through derogation, the influence of oestrogen on women's ratings of female facial attractiveness was examined. During periods of high oestrogen, competition, and hence derogation, increased, as evidenced by lower ratings of female facial attractiveness. By contrast, oestrogen levels did not significantly affect ratings of male faces. These findings support the theory of female intrasexual competition with respect to attractiveness.
Leks are classic models for studies of sexual selection due to extreme variance in male reproductive success, but the relative influence of intrasexual competition and female mate choice in creating this skew is debatable. In the lekking lance-tailed manakin (Chiroxiphia lanceolata), these selective episodes are temporally separated into intrasexual competition for alpha status and female mate choice among alpha males that rarely interact. Variance in reproductive success between status classes of adult males (alpha versus non-alpha) can therefore be attributed to male–male competition whereas that within status largely reflects female mate choice. This provides an excellent opportunity for quantifying the relative contribution of each of these mechanisms of sexual selection to the overall opportunity for sexual selection on males (Imales). To calculate variance in actual reproductive success, we assigned genetic paternity to 92.3% of 447 chicks sampled in seven years. Reproduction by non-alphas was rare and apparently reflected status misclassifications or opportunistic copulations en route to attaining alpha status rather than alternative mating strategies. On average 31% (range 7–44%, n=6 years) of the total Imales was due to variance in reproductive success between alphas and non-alphas. Similarly, in a cohort of same-aged males followed for six years, 44–58% of the total Imales was attributed to variance between males of different status. Thus, both intrasexual competition for status and female mate choice among lekking alpha males contribute substantially to the potential for sexual selection in this species.
sexual selection; reproductive skew; lek; cooperation; mate choice; male–male competition
Studies of the distribution of mating success among males in frog choruses typically seek to identify specific phenotypic attributes that confer a higher mating success on certain individual males. These attributes invariably relate to competition among males: either direct competition in the form of aggression, or competition to attract and be chosen by females. In this paper, we present evidence that an additional factor may operate in frog choruses. We show that individual males who mate on a given night enjoy a higher probability of being successful on the next night, and we suggest that this is because successful mating enables males to conserve energy.
In Drosophila melanogaster, accessory gland proteins (Acps) that a male transfers during mating affect his reproductive success by altering the female's behaviour and physiology. To test the role of male condition in the expression of Acps, we manipulated the pre-adult environment and examined adult males for relative transcript abundance of nine Acps, and for post-copulatory traits that Acps influence. Larval culture density had no effect on any measured trait. Larval nutrient availability impacted the number of sperm transferred and stored, the male's ability to induce refractoriness in his mate, but relative transcript abundance of only a single Acp (Acp36DE). Reduced male body size due to low yeast levels affected sperm competition. Our data indicate that some female-mediated post-copulatory traits (induced refractoriness and sperm transfer and storage) might be influenced by the male's developmental environment, but relative expression of most Acps and some traits they influence (P1′) are not.
accessory gland proteins; sperm competition; sperm storage; transcript levels; body size
Conspicuous male colouration is expected to have evolved primarily through selection by female choice. In what way conspicuous colours could be advantageous to males scrambling for mates remains largely unknown. The moor frog (Rana arvalis) belongs to the so-called explosive breeders in which spawning period is short; intrasexual competition is strong, and males actively search and scramble for females. During breeding, male body colouration changes from a dull brown (similar to females) to a conspicuous blue, and we wanted to test if male blueness influences mating success or facilitates male mate recognition. To do so, we first measured the colour of mated and non-mated males using a spectrophotometer. In an experiment, we then analysed interactions of actual male moor frogs in natural spawning aggregations with a brown (resembling a female or a non-breeding male) and a blue model frog. Mated and non-mated males did not differ in colouration, suggesting that female choice based on colour traits was unlikely. In our behavioural experiment, male moor frogs spent significantly more time in contact and in amplexus with the brown model than with the blue model. Our results suggest that the nuptial colouration in moor frogs can act as a new type of visual signal in anurans evolved to promote instantaneous mate recognition allowing males to quickly move between rivals while scrambling for females.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00265-012-1412-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Anuran amphibians; Colour dimorphism; Explosive breeders; Intrasexual selection; Mate recognition; Scramble competition; Visual signals
The sterile insect technique (SIT) is increasingly used to control pest insect populations. The success of SIT control programs depends on the ability to release sterile males and on the capacity of sterile males to compete with wild males to inseminate wild females. In this study, we evaluated the mating performance of Schistocerca gregaria (Försk.) males irradiated with 4 Gray. We compared reproductive traits, such as duration of precopulation time, mating duration, quantity of sperm stored by females after copulation, number of females mated successively and postmating competition of irradiated males with non-irradiated males. Irradiated males were able to mate but the resulting number of offspring was dramatically reduced compared to the average number of offspring observed during a regular mating. During a single copulation, irradiated males transferred fewer sperm than regular males but, theoretically, this quantity is enough to fertilize all the eggs produced by a female during its reproductive life. Irradiated males also had the ability to remove sperm from a previous mating with unirraditated males. This new information on the mating strategies helps explain the post-copulation guarding behaviour of S. gregaria.
Last-male sperm precedence; Irradiation; Sperm management; Schistocerca gregaria
Movement of individuals influences individual reproductive success, fitness, genetic diversity and relationships among individuals within populations and gene exchange among populations. Competition between males or females for mating opportunities and/or local resources predicts a female bias in taxa with monogamous mating systems and a male-biased dispersal in polygynous species. In birds and mammals, the patterns of dispersal between sexes are well explored, while dispersal patterns in protandrous hermaphroditic fish species have not been studied. We collected 549 adult individuals of Asian seabass (Lates calcarifer) from four locations in the South China Sea. To assess the difference in patterns of dispersal between sexes, we genotyped all individuals with 18 microsatellites. Significant genetic differentiation was detected among and within sampling locations. The parameters of population structure (FST), relatedness (r) and the mean assignment index (mAIC), in combination with data on tagging-recapture, supplied strong evidences for female-biased dispersal in the Asian seabass. This result contradicts our initial hypothesis of no sex difference in dispersal. We suggest that inbreeding avoidance of females, female mate choice under the condition of low mate competition among males, and male resource competition create a female-biased dispersal. The bigger body size of females may be a cause of the female-biased movement. Studies of dispersal using data from DNA markers and tagging-recapture in hermaphroditic fish species could enhance our understanding of patterns of dispersal in fish.
In 1973, Trivers and Willard proposed that offspring sex ratio should be associated with the quality of parental care likely to be provided to the offspring. We tested this hypothesis by comparing fledgling sex ratios in nests of first- and second-mated female house wrens (Troglodytes aedon). In our Wyoming population, second-mated females typically receive little or no male parental assistance and fledge fewer and lower-quality young compared with first-mated females. Assuming that being of lower quality has stronger negative effects on the future reproductive success of males than that of females in this polygynous population, we predicted that fledgling sex ratios in the nests of second-mated females would be female-biased compared with the fledgling sex ratios of first-mated females. Additionally, we asked whether any sex bias at fledging could have resulted from male-biased nestling mortality caused by sex-biased parental provisioning. As predicted, mean fledgling sex ratios in nests of second-mated females were more female-biased than fledgling sex ratios in nests of first-mated females. However, we found no evidence of either sex-biased nestling mortality or sex-biased parental provisioning. These findings suggest that females are responding to their status as second-mated females and to the associated low-quality parental care that their young are likely to receive by producing female-biased clutches rather than manipulating the offspring sex ratio through sex-biased nestling mortality.
Insect dispersal dimorphisms, in which both flight-capable and flightless individuals occur in the same species, are thought to reflect a balance between the benefits and costs of dispersal. Fitness costs and benefits associated with wing dimorphism were investigated in the male pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum (Harris) (Hemiptera: Aphididae). In one-on-one mating competitions in small arenas between winged and wingless males, the winged aphids obtained most of the matings with virgin females. In contrast, during competition experiments in larger cages with multiple individuals of each morph, the winged males no longer had a clear mating advantage over wingless males. In the absence of competition, wingless males had marginally higher lifetime reproductive success than winged males, probably because mating winged males tended to die faster than wingless males. In the absence of females, winged males survived longer than wingless males and this difference disappeared under starvation conditions. Mating males of both morphs died significantly faster than males without access to females. There does not appear to be a direct tradeoff of dispersal ability with life history characteristics in pea aphid males, suggesting that the advantages of producing winged males may result from outbreeding.
wing polymorphism; life-history tradeoff; reproductive tactics
Eutrophication as a result of human activity has resulted in increased algal blooms and turbidity in aquatic environments. We investigated experimentally the effect of algal turbidity on the mating system and sexual selection in the sand goby, Pomatoschistus minutus (Pallas), a marine fish with a resource-defence mating system and paternal care. Owing to male-male competition and female choice, large males can monopolize multiple mates, while some males do not achieve mating at all. We show that the number of eggs laid was the same in both turbid and clear tanks but that mating success was more evenly distributed among males in turbid than in clear water. The opportunity for sexual selection was lower in turbid conditions. In turbid conditions mating success was less skewed towards large males. Our results suggest that increased turbidity can change mating systems and decrease the opportunity for sexual selection as well as selection intensity.