The Indirect Benefits of Mating with Attractive Males Outweigh the Direct Costs

School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. <>
PLoS Biology (Impact Factor: 9.34). 03/2005; 3(2):e33. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0030033
Source: PubMed


The fitness consequences of mate choice are a source of ongoing debate in evolutionary biology. Recent theory predicts that indirect benefits of female choice due to offspring inheriting superior genes are likely to be negated when there are direct costs associated with choice, including any costs of mating with attractive males. To estimate the fitness consequences of mating with males of varying attractiveness, we housed female house crickets, Acheta domesticus, with either attractive or unattractive males and measured a variety of direct and indirect fitness components. These fitness components were combined to give relative estimates of the number of grandchildren produced and the intrinsic rate of increase (relative net fitness). We found that females mated to attractive males incur a substantial survival cost. However, these costs are cancelled out and may be outweighed by the benefits of having offspring with elevated fitness. This benefit is due predominantly, but not exclusively, to the effect of an increase in sons' attractiveness. Our results suggest that the direct costs that females experience when mating with attractive males can be outweighed by indirect benefits. They also reveal the value of estimating the net fitness consequences of a mating strategy by including measures of offspring quality in estimates of fitness.

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    • "Following Shackleton, Jennions & Hunt (2005) we determined male attractiveness by conducting a four-round no-choice tournament that indexed male attractiveness based on the time that elapsed until a female mounted them. Studies have traditionally used a single trait to assess male attractiveness in crickets (Heisler, 1985; Wedell & Tregenza, 1999) but a no-choice tournament is a superior approach because it simultaneously incorporates all relevant factors contributing to short-range male attractiveness (Head et al., 2005; Shackleton, Jennions & Hunt, 2005; Bussiere et al., 2006). For example, several studies on crickets have shown that male attractiveness is unrelated to body size or measures of body condition only (e.g., Simmons, 1987b; Gray & Eckhardt, 2001; Shackleton, Jennions & Hunt, 2005). "
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    ABSTRACT: Reproduction and immunity are fitness-related traits that trade-off with each other. Parasite-mediated theories of sexual selection suggest, however, that higher-quality males should suffer smaller costs to reproduction-related traits and behaviours (e.g., sexual display) from an immune challenge because these males possess more resources with which to deal with the challenge. We used Gryllus texensis field crickets to test the prediction that attractive males should better maintain the performance of fitness-related traits (e.g., calling effort) in the face of an immune challenge compared with unattractive males. We found no support for our original predictions. However, that immune activation causes attractive males to significantly increase their calling effort compared with unattractive males suggests that these males might terminally invest in order to compensate for decreased future reproduction.
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    • "Latency to mating and male mating success was considered as female preference measures (Narraway et al., 2010). These measures are for all traits that confer attractiveness to a mate (Head et al., 2005). As genetic quality can affect mating success by its effect on general activity of males (Whitlock & Agrawal, 2009), we measured different aspects of mating behavior which include activity of males: courtship occurrence, courtship latency, latency to mating and duration of mating. "
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    • "The possible adaptive significance for females of mating with multiple males remains a topic of debate (Uller & Olsson, 2008; Madsen, 2011; Keogh et al., 2013; Noble, Keogh & Whiting, 2013). Females may mate with multiple males to acquire material and/or genetic benefits (Jennions & Petrie, 2000; Head et al., 2005; Slatyer et al., 2011). There is little evidence that the acquisition of material benefits explains multiple mating by female collared lizards because the resources that they require to produce eggs (foraging perches, arthropod prey, refuges) are not limiting in our population, and neither sex provides parental care (Baird & Sloan, 2003). "
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