• Amphipods;
  • direct benefits;
  • genetic benefits;
  • Hyalella;
  • sexual selection

Understanding the evolution and maintenance of female mate choice requires information on both the benefits (the sum of direct and indirect benefits) and costs of selective mating. In this study, I assessed the fitness consequences of female mate choice in a freshwater crustacean. In Hyalella amphipods, males attempt to form precopulatory pairs with females. Large males, bearing large posterior gnathopods, tend to be over-represented in precopulatory pairs. I show that females receive both direct (reduced risk of predation while paired) and indirect (sexy sons) benefits from mating with these males. Furthermore, the behavioral mechanisms used to filter male phenotypes carry no detectable energetic cost for females. Thus, females that choose males with successful phenotypes are expected to have higher Darwinian fitness than females that mate at random. This study shows that direct and indirect selection act together to favor large male size, which explains the sexual size dimorphism and size-based mating biases observed in this species.