, 134:69

First online:

Mate choice for genetic quality when environments vary: suggestions for empirical progress

  • Luc F. BussièreAffiliated withZoologisches Museum der Universität ZürichSchool of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Stirling Email author 
  • , John HuntAffiliated withCentre for Ecology and Conservation, School of Biosciences, The University of Exeter in Cornwall
  • , Kai N. StöltingAffiliated withZoologisches Museum der Universität Zürich
  • , Michael D. JennionsAffiliated withSchool of Botany and Zoology, Australian National University
  • , Robert BrooksAffiliated withEvolution & Ecology Research Centre and School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of New South Wales

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Mate choice for good-genes remains one of the most controversial evolutionary processes ever proposed. This is partly because strong directional choice should theoretically deplete the genetic variation that explains the evolution of this type of female mating preference (the so-called lek paradox). Moreover, good-genes benefits are generally assumed to be too small to outweigh opposing direct selection on females. Here, we review recent progress in the study of mate choice for genetic quality, focussing particularly on the potential for genotype by environment interactions (GEIs) to rescue additive genetic variation for quality, and thereby resolve the lek paradox. We raise five questions that we think will stimulate empirical progress in this field, and suggest directions for research in each area: (1) How is condition-dependence affected by environmental variation? (2) How important are GEIs for maintaining additive genetic variance in condition? (3) How much do GEIs reduce the signalling value of male condition? (4) How does GEI affect the multivariate version of the lek paradox? (5) Have mating biases for high-condition males evolved because of indirect benefits?


Condition dependence Environmental heterogeneity Female preference Fluctuating selection Good-genes Indirect benefits Lek paradox Resource acquisition Resource allocation Sexual selection