Albeit there is growing evidence that males prefer to mate with ornamented females, it has been suggested that the production of costly ornaments may reduce female fecundity, hence favoring males with a preference for females with average ornamentation. In the rock sparrow, Petronia petronia, males and females possess a sexually selected patch of yellow feathers on the breast (a carotenoid-based trait). To test whether males prefer females with the largest ornament or average ornamented females, male rock sparrows were simultaneously faced with 3 conspecific females differing in breast patch size and a female house sparrow as a control. We found that the house sparrow and rock sparrow female with the smallest patch were least preferred, and males showed a clear proximity preference for the females with the above average-sized patch. Our results demonstrate that, contrary to theoretical predictions, a directional preference for female ornament was observed. Directional male preference may arise as consequence of a male's sensory bias or may be associated with indirect (genetic) benefits of choosing ornamented females, if ornament size is correlated with female genetic quality. Clearly, more work is necessary to identify the conditions under which directional preference for female ornament arises

Female ornamentation and directional male mate preference in the rock sparrow

GRIGGIO, MATTEO;DEVIGILI, ALESSANDRO;PILASTRO, ANDREA AUGUSTO
2009

Abstract

Albeit there is growing evidence that males prefer to mate with ornamented females, it has been suggested that the production of costly ornaments may reduce female fecundity, hence favoring males with a preference for females with average ornamentation. In the rock sparrow, Petronia petronia, males and females possess a sexually selected patch of yellow feathers on the breast (a carotenoid-based trait). To test whether males prefer females with the largest ornament or average ornamented females, male rock sparrows were simultaneously faced with 3 conspecific females differing in breast patch size and a female house sparrow as a control. We found that the house sparrow and rock sparrow female with the smallest patch were least preferred, and males showed a clear proximity preference for the females with the above average-sized patch. Our results demonstrate that, contrary to theoretical predictions, a directional preference for female ornament was observed. Directional male preference may arise as consequence of a male's sensory bias or may be associated with indirect (genetic) benefits of choosing ornamented females, if ornament size is correlated with female genetic quality. Clearly, more work is necessary to identify the conditions under which directional preference for female ornament arises
2009
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11577/2379917
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