Female mate preferences for male body size and shape promote sexual isolation in threespine sticklebacks
Article first published online: 5 JUN 2013
© 2013 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Ecology and Evolution
Volume 3, Issue 7, pages 2183–2196, July 2013
How to Cite
Ecology and Evolution 2013; 3(7): 2183–2196
- Issue published online: 10 JUL 2013
- Article first published online: 5 JUN 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 10 MAY 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 9 MAY 2013
- Manuscript Received: 23 APR 2013
- National Science Foundation. Grant Number: IBN-0416808
- Magic traits;
- mate choice;
- reproductive isolation;
- sexual selection;
- Species recognition;
- threespine stickleback
Female mate preferences for ecologically relevant traits may enhance natural selection, leading to rapid divergence. They may also forge a link between mate choice within species and sexual isolation between species. Here, we examine female mate preference for two ecologically important traits: body size and body shape. We measured female preferences within and between species of benthic, limnetic, and anadromous threespine sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus species complex). We found that mate preferences differed between species and between contexts (i.e., within vs. between species). Within species, anadromous females preferred males that were deep bodied for their size, benthic females preferred larger males (as measured by centroid size), and limnetic females preferred males that were more limnetic shaped. In heterospecific mating trials between benthics and limnetics, limnetic females continued to prefer males that were more limnetic like in shape when presented with benthic males. Benthic females showed no preferences for size when presented with limnetic males. These results show that females use ecologically relevant traits to select mates in all three species and that female preference has diverged between species. These results suggest that sexual selection may act in concert with natural selection on stickleback size and shape. Further, our results suggest that female preferences may track adaptation to local environments and contribute to sexual isolation between benthic and limnetic sticklebacks.