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Keywords:

  • Female mating preference;
  • good genes;
  • mate choice;
  • MHC;
  • olfactory cues;
  • Rhodeus ocellatus

An intersexual conflict arises when males and females differ in their reproductive interests. Although experimental studies have shown that females often mate with dominant males, it may not always be in the interest of a female to do so. Here we investigated the impact of male dominance on female mate choice and offspring growth and survival in the rose bitterling (Rhodeus ocellatus), a freshwater fish with a resource-based mating system. Three experimental mating trials were conducted using males of known dominance rank, but with different levels of constraint on male behavior. Thus, females were able to choose among; (1) males that were isolated from each other; (2) males that could see and smell each other, but could not directly interact; (3) males that could interact fully. Using a combination of behavioral observation and parentage analyses it was shown that female preferences did not correspond with male dominance and that male aggression and dominance constrained female mate choice, resulting in a potential intersexual conflict. The survival of offspring to independence was significantly correlated with female mate preferences, but not with male dominance. A lack of strong congruence in female preference for males suggested a role for parental haplotype compatibility in mate choice.