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Females trade off the uncertainty of breeding resource suitability with male quality during mate choice in an anuran

Abstract : In many species, females may be particularly selective about the expected direct benefits of choosing a potential mate or the male's genetic contribution to their offspring. Growing evidence suggests that female choosiness can also be influenced, for instance, by local abiotic factors, the social environment or the presence of heterospecifics. In amphibians that breed in highly temporary ponds with limited trophic resources (such as the yellow-bellied toad, Bombina variegata), competition during larval development may have a strong impact on the fitness of offspring. Accordingly, one might expect females to apply hierarchical decision making, balancing intraspecific competition risks during larval growth against the relative indirect benefits associated with the quality of the male. To investigate this issue, we conducted experiments in seminatural enclosures to test whether the preference of yellow-bellied toad females for good call attractiveness (determined by fundamental frequency) is affected by the risk of larval competition within the pond occupied by the callers. Overall, our results showed that females have a preference for low-frequency calls when prior information does not enable them to assess the relative quality of ponds. However, when prior information enables females to unambiguously determine relative pond quality, females appear to apply hierarchical decision making in which the quality of a pond prevails over call cues related to the quality of the male.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, December 6, 2016 - 3:44:04 PM
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Hugo Cayuela, Thierry Lengagne, Pierre Joly, Jean-Paul Léna. Females trade off the uncertainty of breeding resource suitability with male quality during mate choice in an anuran. Animal Behaviour, Elsevier Masson, 2017, 123, pp.179-185. ⟨10.1016/j.anbehav.2016.11.002⟩. ⟨hal-01410309⟩



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