Sex Roles and Mutual Mate Choice Matter during Mate Sampling
L. C. Myhre, K. de Jong, E. Forsgren, and T.Amundsen (June 2012)
The roles of females and males in mating competition and mate choice have lately proven more variable, between and within species, than previously thought. In nature, mating competition occurs during mate search and is expected to be regulated by the numbers of potential mates and same-sex competitors. Here, we present the first study to test how a temporal change in sex roles affects mating competition and mate choice during mate sampling. Our model system (the marine fish Gobiusculus flavescens) is uniquely suitable because of its change in sex roles, from conventional to reversed, over the breeding season. As predicted from sex role theory, courtship was typically initiated by males and terminated by females early in the breeding season. The opposite pattern was observed late in the season, at which time several females often simultaneously courted the same male. Mate-searching females visited more males early than late in the breeding season. Our study shows that mutual mate choice and mating competition can have profound effects on female and male behavior. Future work needs to consider the dynamic nature of mating competition and mate choice if we aim to fully understand sexual selection in the wild.
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