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Male reproductive success and female preference in bushy-tailed woodrats (Neotoma cinerea): do females prefer males in good physical condition?

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Abstract:

In many mating systems, females may benefit by selecting a male with high genetic quality in the form of good genes or compatible genes. In bushy-tailed woodrats (Neotoma cinerea Ord, 1815), previous research has shown that male reproductive success correlates with the mass change of males over the breeding season, indicating that physical body condition may directly influence female choice and hence male reproductive success. We examined male physical condition in relation to reproductive success in the field. Male physical condition was measured as body-mass change over the breeding season, body size, body condition (mass versus size), and anaemia (packed cell volume and mean corpuscular volume). We then conducted trials in the laboratory in which captive females were presented with visual and olfactory cues from two males simultaneously. In the field, males with a low mean corpuscular volume had the highest reproductive success. Captive females also showed a preference for males with low levels of anaemia based on mean corpuscular volume. These results suggest that females are employing a condition-dependent preference.

Dans plusieurs systèmes de reproduction, les femelles peuvent tirer un avantage de la sélection d’un mâle de bonne qualité génétique en ce qui a trait à ses gènes supérieurs ou compatibles. Chez les rats sylvestres gris (Neotoma cinerea Ord, 1815), des études antérieures ont montré que le succès reproductif des mâles est en corrélation avec leur changement de masse au cours de la période de reproduction, ce qui indique que la condition physique corporelle peut influencer directement le choix des femelles et potentiellement le succès reproductif. Nous examinons la relation entre la condition physique des mâles et leur succès reproductif en nature. Nous avons évalué la condition physique des mâles d’après le changement de masse corporelle durant la saison de reproduction, la taille du corps, la condition corporelle (rapport masse-taille) et l’anémie (hématocrite et volume corpusculaire moyen). Ensuite, à l’aide de femelles en captivité, nous avons fait des essais en laboratoire dans lesquels nous présentons simultanément des signaux visuels et olfactifs de deux mâles. En nature, les mâles ayant un volume corpusculaire moyen faible ont le meilleur succès reproductif. Les femelles en captivité montrent aussi une préférence pour les mâles qui ont un faible niveau d’anémie d’après leur volume corpusculaire moyen. Ces résultats laissent croire que les femelles montrent une préférence qui est basée sur la condition.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2007

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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