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Proc Biol Sci. 2007 Aug 22;274(1621):2019-25.

An experimental test of frequency-dependent selection on male mating strategy in the field.

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  • 1School of Biological sciences, University of Bristol, Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1UG, UK.


We provide field-based experimental evidence for the frequency-dependent nature of the fitness of alternative mating strategies. We manipulated the frequency of genetically determined phenotypic strategies in six wild populations of the side-blotched lizard, Uta stansburiana. The within-population pattern of mating was assessed using nine microsatellite loci to assign paternity. Within populations of the side-blotched lizard exist three colour morphs (orange, blue and yellow) associated with male mating strategy. The frequency of these morphs has previously been found to oscillate over a 4- to 5-year period. We found, as predicted, that the common phenotype lost fitness to its antagonist. The mating patterns of all six populations adhered to a priori predictions that were derived from previous empirical and theoretical observations on this system. We found that the frequency-dependent nature of male fitness could be accounted for by the composition of their competitors at a small local population level, driven by associations within a focal female's social neighbourhood.

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