, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 285-291

Phenotypic differentiation in female preference related to geographic variation in male predation risk in the Trinidad guppy (Poecilia reticulata)

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Populations of the Trinidad guppy range from areas with high levels of predation by other species of fish to areas with little or no piscine predation. Previous studies have shown that variation among populations in male coloration can be explained by a balance between female preference for brighter males and natural selection against bright males. High levels of male courtship activity may also increase both predation risk and mating success. Therefore, in high-predation areas, females that mate with males that court frequently as well as those that choose bright males would presumably produce male offspring with low survivorship. Consistent with this variation in natural selection, we observed that females from high-predation populations were less likely to choose bright and frequently courting males than females from low-predation populations. This result supports the hypothesis that female preference is evolving as a character genetically correlated with the preferred male character, in which case higher levels of natural selection acting against the male character should be related to lower levels of female preference.