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Monday, August 6 • 3:00pm - 3:20pm
Behavior Track: While Males Fight, Females Choose: Male Phenotypic Quality Informs Female Mate Choice In Mammals

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AUTHORS: Daniel L. Morina, Steve Demarais, Bronson K. Strickland, Jamie E. Larson – Mississippi State University

ABSTRACT: Theoretical support exists for male secondary sexual characteristics to signal quality and promote female choice [1]. However, there is little, if any, evidence to support this theory in male-male competition breeding systems. Using white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) as a model species, we manipulated antler size (Fig. 1), body size and age of bucks while controlling for other allometrically related traits and allowed estrus does the opportunity to choose between pairs of segregated bucks with large or small antlers, large or small body size, and old or young age. Segregating bucks removed intrasexual male competition and isolated the effects of female choice. Using various behavioral indications of female choice [2], we demonstrate that does prefer bucks with large antlers to those with small antlers (P = 0.002). Surprisingly, does display no preference for body size (P = 0.645) or age (P = 0.356). Because antler size is heritable in deer [3], this female preference for larger antlers may be adaptive by increasing the reproductive success of her male offspring. Our unique antler manipulation study supports antlers functioning as ornaments to females in male-male competition breeding systems.

Monday August 6, 2018 3:00pm - 3:20pm MDT
Assembly Hall B