Loading constraints sexual selection and assortative mating in peracarid Crustacea

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Abstract

In precopula pairs of amphipod and isopod Crustacea in which males carry females, the males are larger than their mates and mating is size-assortative. Mate-guarding is a product of sexual selection. Size dimorphism and assortative mating have also been attributed to sexual selection but the supporting evidence for amphipods is equivocal. We describe a series of experiments confirming that relatively large male Gammarus pulex L. have an advantage because they can swim against stronger currents when carrying a mate. At higher current speeds, the male/female size ratio which forms is significantly greater, and in field collections size ratios of pairs are higher in streams than in lakes for a number of species. In a simulation we show that a size-assortative pattern inevitably develops if the observed size restriction is used as a rule for pairing. The results are discussed with respect to size-assortative mating, which has been attributed to male selectivity and male-male competition for access to large, fecund females.

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