Several sexual selection theories assume certain benefits of female mate preference. The direct benefit, i.e., the direct contribution from males to their offspring and females, has been well tested empirically. However, the indirect benefit, i.e., the male's genetic contribution to their offspring, has been poorly demonstrated. Female preference for males' carotenoid-based coloration is known in some animals. Since animals must acquire carotenoids through foods, it is often hypothesized that the brightness of the carotenoid-based coloration is a reliable indicator of the male's foraging ability. Hence, females' indirect benefits, such as greater foraging ability in their offspring, through mate preference for the carotenoid-based coloration are assumed. However, the heritability of the foraging ability for foods that serve as carotenoid resources has not been tested. In this study, a maze experiment was performed in guppies (Poecilia reticulata) to examine the heritability of the foraging ability for algae, carotenoid resources in nature. The latency for completing algal-foraging tasks in this experiment showed high individual variation. Heritable estimates of the foraging ability were substantial (h2 = 0.57 – 0.66) and significant, suggesting a genetic contribution to the foraging ability from fathers to their offspring. This result may support the hypothesis that indirect benefits influence the evolution of female choice.
Coloration Foraging ability Heritability Indirect benefit Sexual selection
We are grateful to Anne E. Houde, Robert Brooks and anonymous reviewers for critical reading and helpful comments on our manuscript. This work was supported by Grant-in-Aids (#13740436 and #16570012) to K.K. from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. This research was performed in compliance with the guideline of the Animal Care and Use Committee of Tokyo Gakugei University as well as that of the Japan Ethological Society.
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