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Am Nat. 2005 Jul;166(1):79-92. Epub 2005 Apr 21.

Female mate choice as a condition-dependent life-history trait.

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  • 1School of Biological, Earth, and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales 2052, Australia.


The acquisition of resources is an important determinant of patterns of variation in and covariation among traits that are costly to produce and are dependent on condition for their expression. However, the extent to which variation in female mate choice behavior is condition dependent, and how this is related to other life-history traits, remains largely unknown. We manipulated the acquisition of dietary protein in the black field cricket, Teleogryllus commodus, and measured the effects of this on several important life-history traits and on female mate choice behavior. Females reared on a high-protein diet developed faster, were heavier at eclosion, and lived longer than females reared on a low-protein diet. Two lines of evidence suggest that female mate choice behavior in T. commodus is condition dependent. First, females reared on the high-protein diet were more sexually responsive and expressed stronger linear and quadratic preference functions for call rate and dominant frequency, respectively. Second, within treatments, females that developed faster were lighter, generally less sexually responsive, and, in the high-protein-diet treatment, expressed weaker preferences than slower-developing females. Collectively, our findings suggest an important role for resource acquisition in generating variation in mate choice behavior.

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