Casanovas are liars : behavioral syndromes, sperm competition risk, and the evolution of deceptive male mating behavior in live-bearing fishes [version 1; referees: 3 approved with reservations]

  • Mate choice in many species is sensitive to social cues from neighboring individuals; for example, animals can copy mate choice decisions. If males copy other males’ choices, sperm of two or more males can compete for fertilization of the female’s ova. In the internally fertilizing fish Poecilia mexicana, males respond to the presence of rivals with reduced expression of mating preferences (audience effect), thereby lowering the risk of by-standing rivals copying their mate choice. Also, males interact initially more with a non-preferred female when observed by a rival, which has been interpreted in previous studies as a strategy to mislead rivals, again reducing sperm competition risk (SCR). Using a comparative approach, we tested the hypothesis that SCR is indeed a driving force explaining the occurrence of audience-induced changes in poeciliid male mate choice behavior. If this were true, then males of species with higher overall sexual activity — and, thus, higher potential for multiple mating — should show stronger audience effects. We investigated ten poeciliid species (in two cases including multiple populations) and found support for our hypothesis as mean sexual activity correlated positively with the occurrence of potentially deceptive behavior. An alternative explanation for audience effects would be that males attempt to avoid aggressive encounters, which would predict stronger audience effects in more aggressive species, and so we also characterized the examined species for aggressiveness using staged contests of size-matched males. We demonstrate a positive correlation between mean aggressiveness and sexual activity (suggesting a hormonal link as a mechanistic explanation), but we detected no correlation between aggressiveness and audience effects. Suites of correlated behavioral tendencies are termed behavioral syndromes, and our present study provides correlational evidence for the evolutionary significance of SCR in shaping a behavioral syndrome at the species level across poeciliid taxa.

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Author:David BierbachORCiDGND, Amber M. Makowicz, Ingo Schlupp, Holger Geupel, Bruno StreitGND, Martin PlathORCiDGND
Pubmed Id:
Parent Title (English):F1000Research
Publisher:F1000 Research Ltd
Place of publication:London
Contributor(s):Katja Heubel, Lisa Locatello, Clelia Gasparini
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2013/10/01
Date of first Publication:2013/03/05
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2013/10/01
Issue:Art. 75
Page Number:21
First Page:1
Last Page:21
Copyright: © 2013 Bierbach D et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licence, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Data associated with the article are available under the terms of the Creative Commons Zero "No rights reserved" data waiver (CC0 1.0 Public domain dedication).
Institutes:Biowissenschaften / Institut für Ökologie, Evolution und Diversität
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 59 Tiere (Zoologie) / 590 Tiere (Zoologie)
Sammlung Biologie / Sondersammelgebiets-Volltexte
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 3.0