A trait used to attract the opposite sex during mate choice.
Many animals exhibit conspicuous characteristics such as brightly colored body regions or exaggerated physical structures. When these traits function during mate choice to increase the likelihood of their bearer attracting a mate, they are referred to as ornaments. The quintessential example of an ornament is the peacock’s tail: consisting of bright colors and patterns, and enlarged far beyond the relatively small tails of peahens, peacocks’ tails are presented to females during mating displays. Peahens then accept or reject a male based in part on his tail characteristics (Petrie et al. 1991). Ornaments are often sexually dimorphic, with one sex ornamented and the other not, but mutual ornamentation is also observed (Andersson 1994).
Ornamentation is linked to reproductive success, with individuals that display more elaborate ornaments enjoying a selective advantage. Ornamentations are therefore...
- Andersson, M. (1994). Sexual selection. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Andersson, M., & Simmons, L. W. (2006). Sexual selection and mate choice. TRENDS in Ecology and Evolution, 21, 297–302.Google Scholar
- Darwin, C. (1871). The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. London: John Murray, Albemarle Street.Google Scholar