Sunday, July 15, 2012

Repeatability of mate choice in female red jungle fowl

Johnson, T.S. and Zuk, M. 1995. Behavioural Ecology. 7:245-246

The authors investigated the repeatability of mate choice in female red jungle fowl by examining the heritability of female preference that is an assumption in models explaining the evolution of mate choice. Male morphology was characterized 2 weeks before mate choice trials. For the mate choice trials, males were chosen randomly with the only condition that females never saw a male more than once and males were not paired more than once during the experiment. Females were placed in a small cage in front of two males and left there for 30 min. The female's behaviour was then observed for 20 mins after being released from the small cage. Preference was scored if a female copulated with a male. The results showed that female preference differed with both male trait and the timing of the breeding season. The highest estimate of repeatability was found to be 0.19, which indicates that current heritability may be low. Yet there is still evidence that a heritable component exists in the female red jungle fowl. Females showed repeatability with respect to male combs, but not with respect to hackle feather colour. Male traits can thus evolve through female choice when female preference is genetically determined. and the male trait is heritable.

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