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acta ethologica

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 189–194 | Cite as

Female mate choice is not affected by mate condition in a fish with male care

  • Josefin Sundin
  • Gry Sagebakken
  • Charlotta Kvarnemo
Short Communication

Abstract

Several studies have shown that mate choice based on condition leads to higher reproductive success of the choosing individual. Yet, a growing body of literature has failed to find support for mate choice based on mate condition, even when the choosing individual would clearly benefit from such a choice. This indicates that animals’ mate choice is often more complex than currently appreciated and that even well-founded expected preferences cannot be taken for granted. Using the broad-nosed pipefish, Syngnathus typhle, we manipulated male condition experimentally to explore whether it affects female mate choice. In this sex-role-reversed species, males care for the offspring in a specialised brood pouch. Males are the choosier sex, but given the opportunity, females are selective as well. During brooding, males can both provide embryos with nutrients and take up nutrients that originate from eggs deposited in the pouch, and embryo survival correlates positively with male condition. Together, this suggests that it would be beneficial for females to mate with males in high condition. However, we found no female preference for males in better condition. Thus, this study adds to the literature of mate choice that is unaffected by mate condition. Possible reasons for our result are discussed.

Keywords

Condition dependence Female choice Inter-sexual selection Paternal care Syngnathidae 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was funded by the University of Gothenburg (JS, GS) and the Swedish Research Council (CK). We thank Ingrid Ahnesjö, Inês Braga Gonçalves, Iris Duranovic and Patricia Wecker for help in the field, Anders Berglund and Gunilla Rosenqvist for equipment and Malte Andersson and two anonymous reviewers for comments. Thanks to the Sven Lovén Centre for Marine Sciences, Kristineberg, for facilities and support. The experiment was approved by the Ethical Committee for Animal Research in Gothenburg (licence number 112–2007).

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg and ISPA 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Josefin Sundin
    • 1
  • Gry Sagebakken
    • 2
  • Charlotta Kvarnemo
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Animal Ecology, Department of Ecology and GeneticsUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  2. 2.Department of Biological and Environmental SciencesUniversity of GothenburgGothenburgSweden
  3. 3.Environmental and Marine Biology, Department of BiosciencesÅbo Akademi UniversityTurkuFinland

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