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Proc Biol Sci. 2004 Dec 7;271(1556):2453-7.

Female preference for multiple condition-dependent components of a sexually selected signal.

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  • 1University of Bern, Zoological Institute, Division of Evolutionary Ecology, Wohlenstrasse 50a, CH-3032 Hinterkappelen, Switzerland.


Theoretical models explain the evolution of multi-cue mate-choice decisions from a trade-off between benefits owing to improved assessment of potential mates and costs linked to the use of multiple signals. However, empirical support for these basic assumptions is lacking. In field crickets (Gryllus campestris) we experimentally investigated the female preference to variation in two key components of the male calling song: carrier frequency and chirp rate. Previous studies have revealed carrier frequency and chirp rate as reliable indicators of male quality that reflect past condition and current condition, respectively. In a two-way choice experiment, females significantly preferred test songs of lower carrier frequency and higher chirp rate, but prioritized the carrier frequency over the chirp rate. Hence, the static long-term indicator of mate quality was weighted more than the dynamic short-term one. Our results thus indicate that females integrate information from independent condition-dependent cues to discriminate between available males in mate-choice decisions.

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