Repeatable female preferences, mating order and mating success in the poeciliid fish, Heterandria formosa

Andrea S. Aspbury, Alexandra L. Basolo

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39 Scopus citations


Sexual selection via female choice can afford preferred males comparably higher mating success than those males that lack preferred traits. In addition, many models of sexual selection assume that both male traits and female preferences are heritable. In this study we test whether females of the poeciliid fish, Heterandria formosa, have repeatable pre-copulatory preferences for larger males. We also test whether female pre-copulatory preferences are always reliable indicators of male mating success. When given a choice between a large and a small male, females prefer larger males, and the repeatability of this preference is high. Although there are no overall differences in male mating success between large and small males, large males have a higher mating success when they are the first to mate than when they are the second to mate. Likewise, preferred males also have higher mating success when they are the first to mate than when they mate second. Therefore, the repeatable female preferences observed in this study only predict male mating success when the preferred male mates first. These results illustrate that even significantly repeatable female preferences do not translate into male mating success, which is an assumption of many examinations of the importance of female choice in sexual selection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)238-244
Number of pages7
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2002



  • Mating costs
  • Poeciliidae
  • Repeatability
  • Sexual selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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