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1.  Fluctuating mate preferences in a marine fish 
Biology Letters  2009;6(1):21-23.
According to theory, directional female choice for male sexual ornaments is expected to erode underlying genetic variation. Considerable attention, in this regard, has been given to understanding the ubiquity of heritable genetic variation in both female choice and male sexual traits. One intriguing possibility emerging from this work is that persistent genetic variation could be maintained, over time, by variation in female mate preferences. Here, we report the results of a four-year study showing significant year-to-year fluctuations in mate preferences in a small marine fish, the sand goby, Pomatoschistus minutus. Although the average size of mature fish varied across years, we were unable to find direct evidence linking this variation to differences in female preferences among years. Our results, nevertheless, underscore the importance of temporal fluctuations in female mate preferences, as these can have important consequences for understanding variation in sexual traits and the intensity of sexual selection.
doi:10.1098/rsbl.2009.0558
PMCID: PMC2817248  PMID: 19675000
body size; lek paradox; mate choice; sand goby; sexual selection; temporal fluctuation
2.  Risk-sensitive mating decisions in a visually compromised environment 
Biology Letters  2009;5(5):600-602.
Reproductive activities are often conspicuous and can increase the risk of predation. Evidence suggests that individuals are capable of responding to predators in a risk-sensitive manner. However, most studies tend to consider only the predator-mediated responses of males and females in isolation and with little regard to differences in local environmental conditions. Here, we experimentally investigate the effects of environmental visibility (turbidity) and predation risk on reproductive decisions in the sand goby, Pomatoschistus minutus, when exposed to a visually oriented predator, the European perch, Perca fluviatilis. We found that gobies were more reluctant to spawn in the predator's presence, although larger males spawned sooner than smaller males. Interestingly, latency to spawning was unaffected by the visual environment, suggesting that gobies may be relying on non-visual cues under turbid conditions.
doi:10.1098/rsbl.2009.0350
PMCID: PMC2781965  PMID: 19535368
predation risk; eutrophication; mate choice; sexual selection; Gobiidae
3.  Hurry-up and hatch: selective filial cannibalism of slower developing eggs 
Biology Letters  2008;4(2):160-162.
Filial cannibalism (the consumption of one's own offspring) is thought to represent an adaptive strategy in many animals. However, little is known about the details of which offspring are consumed when a parent cannibalizes. Here, we examined patterns of within-brood filial cannibalism in the sand goby (Pomatoschistus minutus). Males spawned sequentially with two females, and we asked whether males cannibalized selectively with regard to egg size or the order in which eggs were received. Males preferentially consumed the larger eggs of the second female they spawned with. Because larger eggs took longer to hatch, and because female 2's eggs were up to 1 day behind those of female 1, such preferential cannibalism might allow males to decrease the time spent caring for the current brood and re-enter the mating pool sooner. More work is needed to understand the fitness consequences of such selective cannibalism.
doi:10.1098/rsbl.2007.0589
PMCID: PMC2429927  PMID: 18252661
parental care; infanticide; parent–offspring conflict
4.  Females increase current reproductive effort when future access to males is uncertain 
Biology Letters  2008;4(2):224-227.
Trade-offs between current and future reproduction shape life histories of organisms, e.g. increased mortality selects for earlier reproductive effort, and mate limitation has been shown to shape male life histories. Here, we show that female life histories respond adaptively to mate limitation. Female common gobies (Pomatoschistus microps) respond to a female-biased operational sex ratio by strongly increasing the size of their first clutch. The plastic response is predicted by a model that assumes that females use the current competitive situation to predict future difficulties of securing a mating. Because female clutch size decisions are much more closely linked to population dynamics than male life-history traits, plastic responses to mate-finding limitations may be an underappreciated force in population dynamics.
doi:10.1098/rsbl.2007.0630
PMCID: PMC2429940  PMID: 18270162
operational sex ratio; female–female competition; offspring allocation; life history; clutch size

Results 1-4 (4)