Background: Studies of mate choice in anuran amphibians have shown female preference for a wide range of male traits despite females gaining no direct resources from males (i.e. non-resource based mating system). Nevertheless, theoretical and empirical studies have shown that females may still gain indirect genetic benefits from choosing males of higher genetic quality and thereby increase their reproductive success. Methodology/Principal Findings: We investigated two components of sexual selection in the Moor frog (Rana arvalis), precopulatory female choice between two males of different size (‘large’ vs. ‘small’), and their fertilization success in sperm competition and in isolation. Females’ showed no significant preference for male size (13 small and six large male preferences) but associated preferentially with the male that subsequently was the most successful at fertilizing her eggs in isolation. Siring success of males in competitive fertilizations was unrelated to genetic similarity with the female and we detected no effect of sperm viability on fertilization success. There was, however, a strong positive association between a male’s innate fertilization ability with a female and his siring success in sperm competition. We also detected a strong negative effect of a male’s thumb length on his competitive siring success. Conclusions/Significance: Our results show that females show no preference for male size but are still able to choose males which have greater fertilization success. Genetic similarity and differences in the proportion of viable sperm within a males ejaculate do not appear to affect siring success. These results could be explained through pre- and/or postcopulatory choice for genetic benefits and suggest that females are able to perceive the genetic quality of males, possibly basing their choice on multiple phenotypic male traits.
Field of Research
060201 Behavioural Ecology
Socio Economic Objective
970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences