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Female mate choice and mate search tactics in a sex role reversed population of the peacock blenny Salaria pavo (Risso, 1810)

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Behavioural observations were carried out on a sex role reversed population of the blenny Salaria pavo to investigate possible mate choice behaviour of the females. Females mated with relatively larger males, with a larger head crest, anal gland and genital papilla, which had more eggs in their nests and that courted the female. Thus, these male traits were potentially assessed by females when choosing their mates. In order to mate, females visited one to four males (eight females spawned with the first male they had visited and eight visited more than one male). The majority of the females spawned with the last male visited but three of them returned to mate with males visited previously (two with the penultimate visited male). Additionally, the outcome of the first visit of each female depended on the quality of the males: males that were accepted on this first visit had larger head crest than rejected males. Therefore, the mate searching model that best fitted the data was a threshold tactic that allowed the searching individual to return to any potential mate visited before, i.e. that allowed for complete recall. Moreover, three females returned to mate with males rejected earlier during the search, which indicates that they lowered their thresholds. These results suggest that females use a ‘one step decision’ tactic to search for mates. In this tactic, females mate with males that satisfy an adjustable threshold criterion, balancing the quality of the mates expected to find in the next step of the search and the effort of finding them.
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Keywords: Blenniidae; inter-sexual selection; mate search; sex role reversal; ‘one step decision’; ‘sequential search’

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Unidade de Investigação em Eco-Etologia, Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada, Rua Jardim do Tabaco, 34, 1149-041 Lisboa, Portugal

Publication date: 2007-07-01

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