Consistent Patterns Of Male Mate Preference In The Laboratory And Field

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Behavioral Ecology And Sociobiology


Mate preference by males is a widely observed phenomenon; however, it is not well understood how these preferences are expressed in wild populations. Most studies that describe the expression of male mate preference in the wild tend to observe assortative mating, where higher quality males express a strong preference for high quality females while low quality males express either no preference or a preference for low quality females. We examined male mate preference in Bolitotherus cornutus, the forked fungus beetle, a system that exhibits male–male combat and protracted male courtship. We conducted no-choice trials in the laboratory and monitored male courtship in a wild population. In the laboratory, we found a strong preference for larger, more fecund females across all sizes of males. Results from the field were similar to those in the lab; larger females were courted more often, and there was no relationship between the size of a male and the mean size of females he courted (i.e., no assortative mating). This study documents an unusual pattern of expression of male mate preference in the wild and suggests that mate preference by males may be underappreciated in species with intense male–male competition and non-assortative mating.


Male mate preference, Courtship, No-choice experiments, Non-assortative mating