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Anim Behav. 1997 Jun;53(6):1345-56.

Differential effects of mate competition and mate choice on eastern tiger salamanders

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Department of Biological Sciences, Purdue University


Male tiger salamanders, Ambystoma tigrinum tigrinumare slightly larger in body size and have considerably higher and longer tails than females. To determine how these dimorphic traits affected reproductive performance and success, we conducted breeding trials using 12 males and six females per trial and monitored male-female and male-male interactions. Larger males had an advantage in most aspects of mate competition investigated. Males with higher tails had no advantage in either mate competition or mate choice. Males with longer tails also had no advantage in mate competition but were preferred as mates by females. Larger males interrupted courting males more often than smaller males did. The form of male-male interference was conditional on body size and not on either tail dimension. If the intruder was larger than the courting male, it would shove the female away from the courting male and initiate courtship; if the intruder was smaller, it adopted a female mimicry tactic in which it positioned itself between the courting male and female and performed female behaviours to the courting male while simultaneously courting the female. Our trials indicated that the two components of sexual selection may influence the evolution of different male morphological traits in tiger salamanders. Mate competition may favour increased male body length; mate choice may select for greater male tail length.

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