Mate choice and the operational sex ratio: an experimental test with robotic crabs

Hayes, C. L., Callander, S., Booksmythe, I., Jennions, M. D. and Backwell, P. R. Y. (2016) Mate choice and the operational sex ratio: an experimental test with robotic crabs. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 29 7: 1455-1461. doi:10.1111/jeb.12884

Author Hayes, C. L.
Callander, S.
Booksmythe, I.
Jennions, M. D.
Backwell, P. R. Y.
Title Mate choice and the operational sex ratio: an experimental test with robotic crabs
Journal name Journal of Evolutionary Biology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1420-9101
Publication date 2016-07
Year available 2016
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/jeb.12884
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 29
Issue 7
Start page 1455
End page 1461
Total pages 7
Place of publication Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Collection year 2017
Language eng
Formatted abstract
The operational sex ratio (OSR: sexually active males: receptive females) predicts the intensity of competition for mates. It is less clear, however, under what circumstances, the OSR predicts the strength of sexual selection - that is, the extent to which variation in mating success is attributable to traits that increase the bearer's attractiveness and/or fighting ability. To establish causality, experiments that manipulate the OSR are required. Furthermore, if it is possible to control for any OSR-dependent changes in the chosen sex (e.g. changes in male courtship), we can directly test whether the OSR affects the behaviour of the choosing sex (e.g. female choice decisions). We conducted female mate choice experiments in the field using robotic models of male fiddler crabs (Uca mjoebergi). We used a novel design with two females tested sequentially per trial. As in nature, the choice of the first female to mate therefore affected the mates available to the next female. In general, we detected significant sexual selection due to female choice for 'males' with larger claws. Importantly, the strength of sexual selection did not vary across five different OSR/density treatments. However, as the OSR decreased (hence the number of available males declined), females chose the 'males' with the largest claws available significantly more often than expected by chance. Possible reasons for this mismatch between the expected and observed effects of the OSR on the strength of sexual selection are discussed.
Keyword Density
Female choice
Mate sampling
Mating preferences
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
School of Biological Sciences Publications
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