Direct fitness benefits explain mate preference, but not choice, for similarity in heterozygosity levels

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Under sexual selection, mate preferences can evolve for traits advertising fitness benefits. Observed mating patterns (mate choice) are often assumed to represent preference, even though they result from the interaction between preference, sampling strategy and environmental factors. Correlating fitness with mate choice instead of preference will therefore lead to confounded conclusions about the role of preference in sexual selection. Here we show that direct fitness benefits underlie mate preferences for genetic characteristics in a unique experiment on wild great tits. In repeated mate preference tests, both sexes preferred mates that had similar heterozygosity levels to themselves, and not those with which they would optimise offspring heterozygosity. In a subsequent field experiment where we cross fostered offspring, foster parents with more similar heterozygosity levels had higher reproductive success, despite the absence of assortative mating patterns. These results support the idea that selection for preference persists despite constraints on mate choice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1306-1314
JournalEcology Letters
Volume20
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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mate choice
mating behavior
heterozygosity
fitness
sexual selection
assortative mating
reproductive success
environmental factor
foster care
sampling
experiment
environmental factors
gender
testing

Keywords

  • Great tit
  • heterozygosity
  • mate choice
  • mate preferences
  • relatedness
  • reproductive success
  • sexual selection

Cite this

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title = "Direct fitness benefits explain mate preference, but not choice, for similarity in heterozygosity levels",
abstract = "Under sexual selection, mate preferences can evolve for traits advertising fitness benefits. Observed mating patterns (mate choice) are often assumed to represent preference, even though they result from the interaction between preference, sampling strategy and environmental factors. Correlating fitness with mate choice instead of preference will therefore lead to confounded conclusions about the role of preference in sexual selection. Here we show that direct fitness benefits underlie mate preferences for genetic characteristics in a unique experiment on wild great tits. In repeated mate preference tests, both sexes preferred mates that had similar heterozygosity levels to themselves, and not those with which they would optimise offspring heterozygosity. In a subsequent field experiment where we cross fostered offspring, foster parents with more similar heterozygosity levels had higher reproductive success, despite the absence of assortative mating patterns. These results support the idea that selection for preference persists despite constraints on mate choice.",
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author = "Lies Zandberg and Gerrit Gort and {van Oers}, Kees and Hinde, {Camilla A.}",
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Direct fitness benefits explain mate preference, but not choice, for similarity in heterozygosity levels. / Zandberg, Lies; Gort, Gerrit; van Oers, Kees; Hinde, Camilla A.

In: Ecology Letters, Vol. 20, No. 10, 2017, p. 1306-1314.

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterAcademicpeer-review

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T1 - Direct fitness benefits explain mate preference, but not choice, for similarity in heterozygosity levels

AU - Zandberg, Lies

AU - Gort, Gerrit

AU - van Oers, Kees

AU - Hinde, Camilla A.

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AB - Under sexual selection, mate preferences can evolve for traits advertising fitness benefits. Observed mating patterns (mate choice) are often assumed to represent preference, even though they result from the interaction between preference, sampling strategy and environmental factors. Correlating fitness with mate choice instead of preference will therefore lead to confounded conclusions about the role of preference in sexual selection. Here we show that direct fitness benefits underlie mate preferences for genetic characteristics in a unique experiment on wild great tits. In repeated mate preference tests, both sexes preferred mates that had similar heterozygosity levels to themselves, and not those with which they would optimise offspring heterozygosity. In a subsequent field experiment where we cross fostered offspring, foster parents with more similar heterozygosity levels had higher reproductive success, despite the absence of assortative mating patterns. These results support the idea that selection for preference persists despite constraints on mate choice.

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