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Am Nat. 2001 Aug;158(2):146-54. doi: 10.1086/321309.

Shared preferences by predators and females for male ornaments in swordtails.

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Section of Integrative Biology C0930, College of Natural Sciences, University of Texas, Austin, Texas 78712, USA.


Sexually dimorphic traits in many mate recognition systems have evolved in response to preexisting female biases. These biases are often quite general in form and are likely to be shared by predators, thereby imposing a cost on male trait expression. The Mexican tetra Astyanax mexicanus (Pisces: Characidae), a visual predator of swordtail fishes, exhibits the same visual preferences for male body size morphs as do females. Furthermore, tetras in populations where swordtails are absent prefer males with sword ornaments over males with swords removed. The predator preference is thus likely to have arisen prior to contact with fishes bearing the ornament, as has also been suggested for mating preferences for swords.


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