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Science. 2015 Aug 28;349(6251):964-6. doi: 10.1126/science.aab2012.

SEXUAL SELECTION. Irrationality in mate choice revealed by túngara frogs.

Author information

1
Department of Integrative Biology, The University of Texas, Austin, TX 78712, USA. alea@utexas.edu.
2
Department of Integrative Biology, The University of Texas, Austin, TX 78712, USA. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Apartado 0843-03092, Balboa, Ancón, Republic of Panama.

Abstract

Mate choice models derive from traditional microeconomic decision theory and assume that individuals maximize their Darwinian fitness by making economically rational decisions. Rational choices exhibit regularity, whereby the relative strength of preferences between options remains stable when additional options are presented. We tested female frogs with three simulated males who differed in relative call attractiveness and call rate. In binary choice tests, females' preferences favored stimulus caller B over caller A; however, with the addition of an inferior "decoy" C, females reversed their preferences and chose A over B. These results show that the relative valuation of mates is not independent of inferior alternatives in the choice set and therefore cannot be explained with the rational choice models currently used in sexual selection theory.

PMID:
26315434
DOI:
10.1126/science.aab2012
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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