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Mating effort and female receptivity : how do male guppies decide when to invest in sex?

journal contribution
posted on 2010-10-01, 00:00 authored by P Guevara-Fiore, J Stapley, P Watt
Males vary in the degree to which they invest in mating. Several factors can explain this variation, including differences in males’ individual condition and the fact that males allocate their energy depending on the context they face in each mating attempt. Particularly, female quality affects male reproductive success. Here, we studied whether male guppies (Poecilia reticulata) strategically allocated more mating effort, in terms of mating behaviour and male–male competition, when they were matched with a receptive (R) female than a non-receptive one. In accordance with our prediction, we found that males increased their mating behaviour when they were with a receptive female. Even though male guppies can inseminate non-receptive females, we only found high levels of courtship between males that were with a receptive female rather than a non-receptive one. Although there was little affect of female receptivity on male–male competition, we found that males chased and interrupted courtships more with receptive females than with non-receptive females regardless of odour. Finally, we also studied whether the sexual pheromone produced by receptive female guppies is a cue that males use in order to increase their mating effort. We found that males were more attracted to a female when they perceived the sexual pheromone, but only increased their mating and aggressive behaviours when females showed receptive behaviour. This strategic increase in mating effort could result in higher male reproductive success because mating attempts towards receptive females are likely to be less costly and males could have a greater probability of fertilisation.

History

Journal

Behavioral ecology and sociobiology

Volume

64

Issue

10

Pagination

1665 - 1672

Publisher

Springer Berlin / Heidelberg

Location

Berlin, Germany

ISSN

0340-5443

eISSN

1432-0762

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2010, Springer-Verlag

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