Different preference functions act in unison: mate choice and risk-taking behaviour in the Atlantic molly (Poecilia mexicana)

  • Consistent individual differences in behaviour (animal personality) are widespread throughout the Animal Kingdom. This includes variation in risk-taking versus risk-averse behavioural tendencies. Variation in several personality dimensions is associated with distinct fitness consequences and thus, may become a target of natural and/or sexual selection. However, the link between animal personality and mate choice—as a major component of sexual selection—remains understudied. We asked (1) whether females and males of the livebearing fish Poecilia mexicana prefer risk-taking mating partners (directional mating preference), (2) or if their preferences are dependent on the choosing individual’s own personality type (assortative mating). We characterized each test subject for its risk-taking behaviour, assessed as the time to emerge from shelter and enter an unknown area. In dichotomous association preference tests, we offered two potential mating partners that differed in risk-taking behaviour but were matched for other phenotypic traits (body size, shape, and colouration). Females, but not males, exhibited a strong directional preference for risk-taking over risk-averse mating partners. At the same time, the strength of females’ preferences correlated positively with their own risk-taking scores. Our study is the first to demonstrate that a strong overall preference for risk-taking mating partners does not preclude effects of choosing individuals’ own personality type on (subtle) individual variation in mating preferences. More generally, two different preferences functions appear to interact to determine the outcome of individual mate choice decisions.

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Author:Carolin Sommer-TremboORCiDGND, Michael Schreier, Martin PlathORCiDGND
Parent Title (English):bioRxiv
Document Type:Preprint
Date of Publication (online):2019/03/02
Date of first Publication:2019/03/02
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2023/04/23
Page Number:16
Institutes:Biowissenschaften / Institut für Ökologie, Evolution und Diversität
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 59 Tiere (Zoologie) / 590 Tiere (Zoologie)
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY-NC-ND - Namensnennung - Nicht kommerziell - Keine Bearbeitungen 4.0 International