, Volume 63, Issue 10, pp 1427-1435
Date: 10 Jun 2009

Indirect fitness benefits are not related to male dominance in a killifish

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Recent theoretical and empirical studies have shown that male dominance is often at odds with female mate preference and that indirect (genetic) benefits of mate choice may not be related to male dominance. We tested whether female preference corresponded to male dominance and whether mating with dominant males conveyed benefits to offspring fitness in a small freshwater fish, the African annual killifish Nothobranchius korthausae (Cyprinodontiformes), a species without parental care. The experimental design used controlled for the effect of male age, possibility of sperm and egg depletion, and accounted for a potential that females express their preference through maternal effects by manipulation of egg mass during ovulation. By sequentially mating females with males of known dominance, we found that female N. korthausae showed no mate preference in terms of egg numbers deposited with respect to male dominance or body size and no congruent mate preference to specific males was detected. However, males sired offspring with consistently higher hatching success and the effect was repeatable across individual females. Thus, some males provided females with indirect benefits related to additive genetic quality (“good genes”) and expressed via increased hatching rate, but this benefit was not related to male dominance status or body size.

Communicated by J. Krause