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State-Dependent Mate-Assessment and Mate-Selection Behavior in Female Threespine Sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus, Gasterosteiformes: Gasterosteidae)

Authors

  • Barney Luttbeg,

    1. Center for Population Biology and Animal Behavior Graduate Group, University of California, Davis; Wellesley College; Environmental Studies Board, University of California, Santa Cruz; Department of Biology, Clark University, USA
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  • Mary C Towner,

    1. Center for Population Biology and Animal Behavior Graduate Group, University of California, Davis; Wellesley College; Environmental Studies Board, University of California, Santa Cruz; Department of Biology, Clark University, USA
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  • Alix Wandesforde-Smith,

    1. Center for Population Biology and Animal Behavior Graduate Group, University of California, Davis; Wellesley College; Environmental Studies Board, University of California, Santa Cruz; Department of Biology, Clark University, USA
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  • Marc Mangel,

    1. Center for Population Biology and Animal Behavior Graduate Group, University of California, Davis; Wellesley College; Environmental Studies Board, University of California, Santa Cruz; Department of Biology, Clark University, USA
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  • Susan A. Foster

    1. Center for Population Biology and Animal Behavior Graduate Group, University of California, Davis; Wellesley College; Environmental Studies Board, University of California, Santa Cruz; Department of Biology, Clark University, USA
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Barney Luttbeg, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, 735 State St, Suite 300, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, USA. E-mail: luttbeg@nceas.ucsb.edu

Abstract

Most investigations of mate-choice have focused on the outcomes of mate-choice (i.e. which mates are chosen), and thus we generally know very little about how mates are chosen (i.e. how mates are found, assessed, and selected). Mate-choice by females has been shown to be dependent on the state of the female, with females being less selective when limited by time or energy. This result could be caused by changes in female mate-assessment or mate-selection behavior. We examined whether manipulations of time and energy affected the mate-choice behavior of female threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). We found that female mate-choice behavior, when not divided into stages, was affected by both of the manipulations. This matches previous findings. When we divided female courtship behavior into six stages, we found that the two manipulations affected different portions of the mate-choice process. The holding-time manipulation changed female behavior at the beginning and end of the mate-choice process and the swimming manipulation changed female behavior only at the end of the mate-choice process. Neither of the manipulations significantly affected female behavior in the middle portion of the mate-choice process. Thus, the mate-choice process appears to be composed of multiple state-dependent decisions. We discuss how a better mechanistic understanding of how female state affects female mate-choice behavior can produce testable predictions and provide a basis for investigating the evolution of mating systems.

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