, Volume 24, Issue 6, pp 1177-1188

Sexual Dichromatism and Female Preference in Eulemur fulvus Subspecies

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Abstract

We experimentally tested the hypothesis that sexual dichromatism in the subspecies of Eulemur fulvus is the evolutionary result of female preference for brightly colored males. Ten female lemurs representing 6 different subspecies of Eulemur fulvus were subjects in the experiment; controls were 4 females of non-sexually dichromatic lemurid taxa. For each taxon we presented photographs of the face of a male of that taxon whose colors had been digitally altered to make him less and more colourful. Median viewing times of the pooled female Eulemur fulvus are significantly correlated with colorfulness. Viewing times in the control females are not correlated with color or brightness of the stimulus photographs. We concluded that the females of the Eulemur fulvus sspp. preferred to view photographs of more colorful males, which is consistent with the predictions of sexual selection theory.