Browsing by Subject "sexual selection"

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  • Sirkiä, Paivi M.; Qvarnstrom, Anna (2021)
    Understanding the origin and persistence of phenotypic variation within and among populations is a major goal in evolutionary biology. However, the eagerness to find unadulterated explanatory models in combination with difficulties in publishing replicated studies may lead to severe underestimations of the complexity of selection patterns acting in nature. One striking example is variation in plumage coloration in birds, where the default adaptive explanation often is that brightly colored individuals signal superior quality across environmental conditions and therefore always should be favored by directional mate choice. Here, we review studies on the proximate determination and adaptive function of coloration traits in male pied flycatchers (Ficedula hypoleuca). From numerous studies, we can conclude that the dark male color phenotype is adapted to a typical northern climate and functions as a dominance signal in male-male competition over nesting sites, and that the browner phenotypes are favored by relaxed intraspecific competition with more dominant male collared flycatchers (Ficedula albicollis) in areas where the two species co-occur. However, the role of avoidance of hybridization in driving character displacement in plumage between these two species may not be as important as initially thought. The direction of female choice on male coloration in pied flycatchers is not simply as opposite in direction in sympatry and allopatry as traditionally expected, but varies also in relation to additional contexts such as climate variation. While some of the heterogeneity in the observed relationships between coloration and fitness probably indicate type 1 errors, we strongly argue that environmental heterogeneity and context-dependent selection play important roles in explaining plumage color variation in this species, which probably also is the case in many other species studied in less detail.
  • Candolin, Ulrika; Reynolds, John D. (Royal Society of London, 2002)
    Game theory models of sperm competition predict that within species, males should increase their sperm expenditure when they have one competitor, but decrease expenditure with increasing numbers of competitors. So far, there have been few tests or support for this prediction. Here, we show that males of a freshwater sh, the European bitterling, Rhodeus sericeus, do indeed adjust their ejaculation rate to the number of male competitors by rst increasing and then decreasing their ejaculation rates as the number of competitors increases. However, this occurred only under restricted conditions. Speci cally, the prediction was upheld as long as no female had deposited eggs in the live mussels that are used as spawning sites. After one or more females had spawned, males did not decrease their ejaculation rates with the number of competitors, but instead they became more aggressive. This indicates that decreased ejaculation rate and increased aggression are alternative responses to increased risk of sperm competition.
  • Qvarnstrom, Anna; Alund, Murielle; McFarlane, S. Eryn; Sirkiä, Päivi (2016)
    Climate adaptation is surprisingly rarely reported as a cause for the build-up of reproductive isolation between diverging populations. In this review, we summarize evidence for effects of climate adaptation on pre- and postzygotic isolation between emerging species with a particular focus on pied (Ficedula hypoleuca) and collared (Ficedula albicollis) flycatchers as a model for research on speciation. Effects of climate adaptation on prezygotic isolation or extrinsic selection against hybrids have been documented in several taxa, but the combined action of climate adaptation and sexual selection is particularly well explored in Ficedula flycatchers. There is a general lack of evidence for divergent climate adaptation causing intrinsic postzygotic isolation. However, we argue that the profound effects of divergence in climate adaptation on the whole biochemical machinery of organisms and hence many underlying genes should increase the likelihood of genetic incompatibilities arising as side effects. Fast temperature-dependent co-evolution between mitochondrial and nuclear genomes may be particularly likely to lead to hybrid sterility. Thus, how climate adaptation relates to reproductive isolation is best explored in relation to fast-evolving barriers to gene flow, while more research on later stages of divergence is needed to achieve a complete understanding of climate-driven speciation.
  • Hopkins, Juhani; Lehtonen, Topi K.; Baudry, Gautier; Kaitala, Arja (2021)
    How fecundity might be traded off with mate attraction and other aspects of reproduction in females remains poorly understood. We investigated these allocation trade-offs using the common glowworm (Lampyris noctiluca), a lampyrid beetle, in which flightless, sedentary females only use resources gathered during the larval stage to attract flying males by glowing. While sexual signaling was not found to have a significant fecundity cost, a delay in successfully attracting a mate greatly increased the risk of reproductive failure, with fecundity losses being more severe in small females. These findings are among the first to show that failure to quickly attract a mate can decrease female fecundity. The results also show how the length of delay before mating can drive the evolution of female sexual ornamentation.
  • Rankin, Daniel J.; Kokko, Hanna (2007)
    Models of population dynamics generally neglect the presence of males. While this assumption holds under many circumstances, behavioural ecology increasingly tells that the presence (or absence) of males may have an impact on female fitness, and hence population sizes. Here we ask the question of whether males matter to population dynamics, operationally defined as a dependency of population growth on the relative density of males. We provide simple models, and evaluate the current 8 empirical evidence for them, that illustrate various mechanisms of such male influence: mate searching behavior, male resource use (including effects of sexual dimorphism), sexual harassment and sexual segregation. In each case, theory predicts that males can have an effect on population densities, and in some extreme cases a positive feedback between an increasingly male-biased sex ratio and the effects on female harassment may theoretically even bring about population extinction. The results of this study, and the literature reviewed, show that the males can have a substantial effect on population dynamics, particularly so when human influences result in biased sex ratios.
  • Mück, Isabel; Heubel, Katja U. (2018)
    Although it has become clear that sexual selection may shape mating systems and drive speciation, the potential constraints of environmental factors on processes and outcomes of sexual selection are largely unexplored. Here, we investigate the geographic variation of such environmental factors, more precisely the quality and quantity of nest resources (bivalve shells) along a salinity gradient in the Baltic Sea Area (Baltic Sea, Sounds and Belts, and Kattegat). We further test whether we find any salinity-associated morphological differences in body size between populations of common gobies Pomatoschistus microps, a small marine fish with a resource-based mating system. In a geographically expansive field study, we sampled 5 populations of P. microps occurring along the salinity gradient (decreasing from West to East) in the Baltic Sea Area over 3 consecutive years. Nest resource quantity and quality decreased from West to East, and a correlation between mussel size and male body size was detected. Population density, sex ratios, mating- and reproductive success as well as brood characteristics also differed between populations but with a less clear relation to salinity. With this field study we shed light on geographic variation of distinct environmental parameters possibly acting on population differentiation. We provide insights on relevant ecological variation, and draw attention to its importance in the framework of context-dependent plasticity of sexual selection.
  • Lehtonen, Topi Kasperi; Kaitala, Arja Leena (2020)
    Spatial distributions of sexual competitors and potential mating partners have a large impact on sexual selection and mating systems. Typically, such effects are investigated with regard to male aggregations. However, females may also need to compete for mating opportunities. Here, we investigated the consequences of clustering and rival attractiveness on female mate attraction success under field conditions in a nocturnal beetle, the common glowworm, Lampyrus noctiluca. We placed dummy females of two glow intensity (attractiveness) levels either alone or in clusters of varying attractiveness compositions. We found that, by displaying alone rather than in a cluster, females have a higher probability of mating and greater potential to exercise mate choice. Within clusters, females of both attractiveness levels had the highest probability of mating when having neighbors of only the less attractive type. These results show that both the presence and attractiveness of rivals can strongly influence females’ mate attraction. The findings also suggest that the typical distribution of glowing females in the wild is better explained by female than male benefits. Hence, the results highlight the important links between spatial distribution of females, male mate searching, and sexual selection.
  • Lehmann, Laurent; Keller, Lukas F; Kokko, Hanna (2007)
    Female mate choice influences the maintenance of genetic variation by altering the mating success of males with different genotypes. The evolution of preferences themselves, on the other hand, depends on genetic variation present in the population. Few models have tracked this feedback between a choice gene and its effects on genetic variation, in particular when genes that determine offspring viability and attractiveness have dominance effects. Here we build a population genetic model that allows comparing the evolution of various choice rules in a single framework. We first consider preferences for good genes and show that focused preferences for homozygotes evolve more easily than broad preferences, which allow heterozygous males high mating success too. This occurs despite better maintenance of genetic diversity in the latter scenario, and we discuss why empirical findings of superior mating success of heterozygous males consequently do not immediately lead to a better understanding of the lek paradox. Our results thus suggest that the mechanisms that help maintain genetic diversity also have a flipside of making female choice an inaccurate means of producing the desired kind of offspring. We then consider preferences for heterozygosity per se, and show that these evolve only under very special conditions. Choice for compatible genotypes can evolve but its selective advantage diminishes quickly due to frequency-dependent selection. Finally, we show that our model reproduces earlier results on selfing, when the female choice strategy produces assortative mating. Overall, our model indicates that various forms of heterozygote-favouring (or variable) female choice pose a problem for the theory of sexual ornamentation based on indirect benefits, rather than a solution.
  • Candolin, Ulrika (2019)
    Human activities by altering environmental conditions are influencing the mate choice of animals. This is by impacts on: (i) the production and expression of traits evaluated by mate choosers; (ii) the transmission of information about potential mates to choosers; (iii) the reception and processing of the information by choosers; and (iv) the final mate choice. Here, I first discuss how these four stages of the mate-choice process can be altered by environmental change, and how these alterations, in turn, can influence individuals, populations, and communities. Much evidence exists for human-induced environmental changes influencing mate choice, but the consequences for the fitness of courters and choosers are less well known, and even less is known about the impact on population dynamics, species interactions and community composition. More evidence exists for altered mate-choice systems influencing interspecific matings and thereby community composition and biodiversity. I then consider whether plastic adjustments and evolutionary changes can rescue adaptive mate-choice systems, and reflect on the possibility of non-adaptive mate-choice systems becoming less maladaptive under environmental change. Much evidence exists for plastic adjustments of mate-choice systems, but whether these are adaptive is seldom known, as is the contribution of genetic changes. Finally, I contemplate the possibility of mate-choice systems rescuing populations from decline in changing environments. I explain how this is context dependent with both positive and negative outcomes possible. In summary, while much evidence exists for human-induced environmental changes influencing mate-choice systems, less is known about the consequences for ecological and evolutionary processes. Considering the importance that mate choice plays in determining individual fitness and population viability, the effects of environmental change on mate-choice systems should be considered in studies on the ecological and evolutionary consequences of human disturbances to habitats.
  • Rojas, Bibiana; Burdfield-Steel, Emily; De Pasqual, Chiara; Gordon, Swanne; Hernandez, Linda; Mappes, Johanna; Nokelainen, Ossi; Ronka, Katja; Lindstedt, Carita (2018)
    Chemically defended animals often display conspicuous color patterns that predators learn to associate with their unprofitability and subsequently avoid. Such animals (i.e., aposematic), deter predators by stimulating their visual and chemical sensory channels. Hence, aposematism is considered to be "multimodal." The evolution of warning signals (and to a lesser degree their accompanying chemical defenses) is fundamentally linked to natural selection by predators. Lately, however, increasing evidence also points to a role of sexual selection shaping warning signal evolution. One of the species in which this has been shown is the wood tiger moth, Arctia plantaginis, which we here put forward as a promising model to investigate multimodality in aposematic and sexual signaling. A. plantaginis is an aposematic diurnal moth which exhibits sexually dimorphic coloration as well as sex-limited polymorphism in part of its range. The anti-predator function of its coloration and, more recently, its chemical defenses (even when experimentally decoupled from the visual signals), has been well-demonstrated. Interestingly, recent studies have revealed differences between the two male morphs in mating success, suggesting a role of coloration in mate choice or attraction, and providing a possible explanation for its sexual dimorphism in coloration. Here, we: (1) review the lines of evidence showing the role of predation pressure and sexual selection in the evolution of multimodal aposematic signals in general, and in the wood tiger moth in particular; (2) establish gaps in current research linking sexual selection and predation as selective pressures on aposematic signals by reviewing a sample of the literature published in the last 30 years; (3) highlight the need of identifying suitable systems to address simultaneously the effect of natural and sexual selection on multimodal aposematic signals; and (4) propose directions for future research to test how aposematic signals can evolve under natural and sexual selection.
  • Velmala, William; Helle, Samuli; Ahola, Markus P.; Klaassen, Marcel; Lehikoinen, Esa; Rainio, Kalle; Sirkiä, Päivi; Laaksonen, Toni (2015)
    For migratory birds, the earlier arrival of males to breeding grounds is often expected to have fitness benefits. However, the selection differential on male arrival time has rarely been decomposed into the direct effect of male arrival and potential indirect effects through female traits. We measured the directional selection differential on male arrival time in the pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca) using data from 6years and annual number of fledglings as the fitness proxy. Using structural equation modeling, we were able to take into account the temporal structure of the breeding cycle and the hierarchy between the examined traits. We found directional selection differentials for earlier male arrival date and earlier female laying date, as well as strong selection differential for larger clutch size. These selection differentials were due to direct selection only as indirect selection for these traits was nonsignificant. When decomposing the direct selection for earlier male arrival into direct and indirect effects, we discovered that it was almost exclusively due to the direct effect of male arrival date on fitness and not due to its indirect effects via female traits. In other words, we showed for the first time that there is a direct effect of male arrival date on fitness while accounting for those effects that are mediated by effects of the social partner. Our study thus indicates that natural selection directly favored earlier male arrival in this flycatcher population.
  • Mehmetoglu, Mehmet; Määttänen, Ilmari (2020)
    Previous research has provided evidence that females are generally the more selective sex in humans. Moreover, both sexes have been found to be more selective in long-term mating compared to short-term mating. In this study, we have examined the effects of sex, mating strategy (preferred relationship length) and their interaction on mate preferences (i.e., mate selection criteria) in an egalitarian Nordic society, namely Norway. The study sample consisted of 1,000 individuals, 417 of whom were male and 583 female respondents. According to our findings, men were more selective in physical appearance, whereas women were more selective in all the other mate preferences (e.g., understanding, dominant, kind, intellectual etc.). The respondents that were seeking short-term relationships had higher preference for physical appearance, humorousness and sociability. On the other hand, the respondents that were seeking long-term relationships were more selective in most of the other mate preferences (i.e., understanding, kind, cultivated, domestic, reliable, and similar). Interestingly, no interaction effect was found between sex and mating strategy in that differences between long-term and short-term seekers in mate preferences did not change depending on sex. This suggests that men and women value the same traits in short-term relationships.
  • Johnson, Sini; Candolin, Ulrika (2017)
    Much evidence exists for sexually selected traits reflecting various components of mate quality, but the factors that limit signal expression and ensure honest signaling are less well known. Predation risk has been proposed to be one factor that could constrain the elaboration of visually conspicuous signals and ensure honesty, but little evidence exists because of limitations of earlier used methods. We investigated using a combination of field observations and experimental work if a conspicuous sexual signal of the threespine stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus, the red nuptial coloration of the male, increases predation risk. We compared the proportion of colorful males in the gut of a predator in the wild, the perch Perca fluviatilis, to that in the population, and found proportionally more red-colored stickleback in the gut. This indicates that the predator selectively preys on colorful males under natural conditions. To differentiate between the effects of color and behavior on susceptibility to predation, we experimentally investigated the attack behavior of the predator towards breeding stickleback males differing in coloration. We found the predator to preferentially attack more colorful males, independent of their behavior. These results indicate that predation risk is a cost of the sexual signal that could limit expression and influence the honesty of the signal as an indicator of mate quality
  • Elgert, Christina Barbro Cecilia; Hopkins, Juhani; Kaitala, Arja Leena; Candolin, Ulrika (2020)
    The amount of artificial light at night is growing worldwide, impacting the behaviour of nocturnal organisms. Yet, we know little about the consequences of these behavioural responses for individual fitness and population viability. We investigated if females of the common glow-wormLampyris noctiluca-which glow in the night to attract males-mitigate negative effects of artificial light on mate attraction by adjusting the timing and location of glowing to spatial variation in light conditions. We found females do not move away from light when exposed to a gradient of artificial light, but delay or even refrain from glowing. Further, we demonstrate that this response is maladaptive, as our field study showed that staying still when exposed to artificial light from a simulated streetlight decreases mate attraction success, while moving only a short distance from the light source can markedly improve mate attraction. These results indicate that glow-worms are unable to respond to spatial variation in artificial light, which may be a factor in their global decline. Consequently, our results support the hypothesis that animals often lack adaptive behavioural responses to anthropogenic environmental changes and underlines the importance of considering behavioural responses when investigating the effects of human activities on wildlife.
  • Elgert, Christina Barbro Cecilia; Lehtonen, Topi Kasperi; Kaitala, Arja Leena; Candolin, Ulrika (2021)
  • Karvonen, Anssi; Lindström, Kai (2018)
    Parasitism is considered a major selective force in natural host populations. Infections can decrease host condition and vigour, and potentially influence, for example, host population dynamics and behavior such as mate choice. We studied parasite infections of two common marine fish species, the sand goby (Pomatoschistus minutus) and the common goby (Pomatoschistus microps), in the brackish water Northern Baltic Sea. We were particularly interested in the occurrence of parasite taxa located in central sensory organs, such as eyes, potentially affecting fish behavior and mate choice. We found that both fish species harbored parasite communities dominated by taxa transmitted to fish through aquatic invertebrates. Infections also showed significant spatiotemporal variation. Trematodes in the eyes were very few in some locations, but infection levels were higher among females than males, suggesting differences in exposure or resistance between the sexes. To test between these hypotheses, we experimentally exposed male and female sand gobies to infection with the eye fluke Diplostomum pseudospathaceum. These trials showed that the fish became readily infected and females had higher parasite numbers, supporting higher susceptibility of females. Eye fluke infections also caused high cataract intensities among the fish in the wild. Our results demonstrate the potential of these parasites to influence host condition and visual abilities, which may have significant implications for survival and mate choice in goby populations.
  • Class, Barbara; Kluen, Edward; Brommer, Jon E. (2019)
    Indirect sexual selection arises when reproductive individuals choose their mates based on heritable ornaments that are genetically correlated to fitness. Evidence for genetic associations between ornamental colouration and fitness remains scarce. In this study, we investigate the quantitative genetic relationship between different aspects of tail structural colouration (brightness, hue and UV chroma) and performance (cell-mediated immunity, body mass and wing length) in blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) nestlings. In line with previous studies, we find low heritability for structural colouration and moderate heritability for performance measures. Multivariate animal models show positive genetic correlations between the three measures of performance, indicating quantitative genetic variation for overall performance, and tail brightness and UV chroma, two genetically independent colour measures, are genetically correlated with performance (positively and negatively, respectively). Our results suggest that mate choice based on independent aspects of tail colouration can have fitness payoffs in blue tits and provide support for the indirect benefits hypothesis. However, low heritability of tail structural colouration implies that indirect sexual selection on mate choice for this ornament will be a weak evolutionary force.
  • Mannerla, Miia (Helsingfors universitet, 2009)
    The Baltic Sea suffers from eutrophication caused by the increased use of nitrogen- and phosphorus based fertilizers in agriculture. When these nutrients end up in the water ecosystem, they increase the growth of filamentous algae causing turbidity at many locations. The three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) breeds at the shallow coastal waters of the Baltic Sea, which are often eutrophied. In these locations turbidity of the water may interfere with the mating cues used by the three-spined stickleback, which in turn may lead to decreased fitness of the population. I attempted to find out how turbidity alters the use of visual and olfactory cues in the mate choice of the three-spined stickleback, as well as to see if these changes decrease the viability of the following generation. Female three-spined sticklebacks choose their mates based on visual and olfactory cues. During the reproductive season stickleback males turn bright red and attract females to their nests by a conspicuous courtship dance. Females use males' red colouration, size and courtship intensity as visual cues when choosing an appropriate mating partner. They also pay much attention to olfactory cues. Female sticklebacks are able to smell MHC-encoded peptides which are secreted to the males' skin. The allelic combination of MHC determines which pathogens the individual has resistance for, and this resistance may be inherited by the offspring. I empirically tested the use of olfactory and visual cues in the mate choice of the three-spined stickleback using turbid and clear water as treatments. In mate choice tests a female was made to choose from two males in circumstances where she was allowed to use only one of the cues (visual or olfactory) or both cues simultaneously. The redness and size of the males was measured. Artificial inseminations were performed to produce offspring, whose growth rate was measured to evaluate fitness. Based on the results of these experiments, turbidity alters the use of mating cues of the three-spined stickleback. Visual cues seem to be important in clear water, whereas in turbid water olfactory cues increase in importance in relation to visual cues. The sample size was limited to reliably test offspring fitness effects, but it seems that the alteration in the use of mate choice cues may influence population viability in the long term. However, additional research is needed to determine this.
  • Mobley, Kenyon B.; Granroth-Wilding, Hanna; Ellmen, Mikko; Orell, Panu; Erkinaro, Jaakko; Primmer, Craig R. (2020)
    Abstract In species with complex life cycles, life history theory predicts that fitness is affected by conditions encountered in previous life history stages. Here, we use a four-year pedigree to investigate if time spent in two distinct life history stages has sex-specific reproductive fitness consequences in anadromous Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). We determined the amount of years spent in fresh water as juveniles (freshwater age, FW, measured in years), and years spent in the marine environment as adults (sea age, SW, measured in sea winters) on 264 sexually mature adults collected on a river spawning ground. We then estimated reproductive fitness as the number of offspring (reproductive success) and the number of mates (mating success) using genetic parentage analysis (>5000 offspring). Sea age is significantly and positively correlated with reproductive and mating success of both sexes whereby older and larger individuals gained the highest reproductive fitness benefits (females: 62.2% increase in offspring/SW and 34.8% increase in mate number/SW; males: 201.9% offspring/SW and 60.3% mates/SW). Younger freshwater age was significantly related to older sea age and thus increased reproductive fitness, but only among females (females: -33.9% offspring/FW and -32.4% mates/FW). This result implies that females can obtain higher reproductive fitness by transitioning to the marine environment earlier. In contrast, male mating and reproductive success was unaffected by freshwater age and more males returned at a younger age than females despite the reproductive fitness advantage of later sea age maturation. Our results show that the timing of transitions between juvenile and adult phases has a sex-specific consequence on female reproductive fitness, demonstrating a life-history trade-off between maturation and reproduction in wild Atlantic salmon.