, 134:69 | Cite as

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

  • Luc F. Bussière
  • John Hunt
  • Kai N. Stölting
  • Michael D. Jennions
  • Robert Brooks


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 



Genotype-by-environment interaction



We thank Trevor Pitcher and Herman Mays for organizing the symposium on genetic quality that enabled this debate. We also thank Mark Blows, Marco Demont, Tracie Ivy, Hanna Kokko, Ane Laugen, Andrew Pemberton, and especially Lukas Keller for very helpful discussions during the preparation of the manuscript. Locke Rowe and Goran Arnqvist have patiently contributed through explanations and discussions with LFB over the years. LFB and KNS were supported by the University of Zurich in the form of grants to Paul Ward and Anthony Wilson, and KNS also received funds from the University of Zurich Forschungskredit. JH was supported by a NERC (UK) Fellowship, and RB and MDJ were supported through grants and QEII Research Fellowships from the Australian Research Council.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luc F. Bussière
    • 1
    • 2
  • John Hunt
    • 3
  • Kai N. Stölting
    • 1
  • Michael D. Jennions
    • 4
  • Robert Brooks
    • 5
  1. 1.Zoologisches Museum der Universität ZürichZürichSwitzerland
  2. 2.School of Biological and Environmental SciencesUniversity of StirlingStirlingUK
  3. 3.Centre for Ecology and Conservation, School of BiosciencesThe University of Exeter in CornwallPenrynUK
  4. 4.School of Botany and ZoologyAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  5. 5.Evolution & Ecology Research Centre and School of Biological, Earth and Environmental SciencesThe University of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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