Although the majority of studies on mate choice focus on female mate choice, there is growing rec- ognition of the role of male mate choice too. Male mate choice is tightly linked to 2 other phenom- ena: female competition for males and ornamentation in females. In the current article, I review the existing literature on this in a group of ﬁshes, Poeciliidae. In this group, male mate choice appears to be based on differences in female quality, especially female size, which is a proxy for fecundity. Some males also have to choose between heterospeciﬁc and conspeciﬁc females in the unusual mating system of the Amazon molly. In this case, they typically show a preference for conspeciﬁc females. Whereas male mate choice is relatively well documented for this family, female ornamen- tation and female competition are not. Key words: binary choice test, fecundity, female choice, female size, Gambusia, guppy, Poecilia, preference function, sexual selection, Xiphophorus. Introduction Jacanas (Temrin and Sillentullberg 1994). In the vast majority of Within sexual selection, mate choice is especially important. species, however, the pattern is much more subtle, and one question Selecting a mating partner might be the most critical decision any in- arising from male compensatory investment is whether this can lead dividual makes. Mate choice is thought to drive the evolution of or- to the evolution of choosiness in males (Edward and Chapman namental traits, including courtship, and can induce competition for 2011). In addition to male investment, environmental stochasticity mates in the opposite sex. Based on work by Darwin (1859, 1871), may flip the balance between limiting and limited sex, for example, Bateman (1948), Trivers (1972), and Lehtonen et al. (2016),it is when males become exceedingly rare locally (Heubel et al. 2009), generally agreed that the sex that invests more into the offspring thus potentially increasing their choosiness. More importantly, can evolves to be the more selective one. In the majority of species this is choosiness evolve in species where there is no compensatory invest- the female, which invests strongly into eggs, as compared with a ment? Essentially, we have to ask what the adaptive benefits, the very small investment of males into sperms. This ecological differen- mechanisms, and the evolutionary consequences of male mate tial in investment sets the stage for sexual selection and the 2 mecha- choice might be for such males. We need to explore if male mate nisms proposed by Darwin: typically females choose partners and choice could induce the evolution of female ornaments, and also males compete over reproductive opportunities. In species with lead to female competition over males (Figure 1). post-copulatory paternal investment into offspring, males can com- To investigate this, I am reviewing our knowledge of a group of pensate for the lack of early investment, sometimes leading to a re- fishes that are on one extreme of the continuum of male investment. versal in roles and the evolution of male mate choice and female Males of livebearing fishes of the family Poeciliidae show no pater- competition for males. This is well understood in some of the few nal investment into offspring after copulation. They only invest into species that show this pattern, like pipefish (Vincent et al. 1992) and ejaculates, pre-copulatory behavior, including courtship, as well as V C The Author(s) (2018). Published by Oxford University Press. 393 This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact email@example.com Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/cz/article-abstract/64/3/393/4962603 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 394 Current Zoology, 2018, Vol. 64, No. 3 anymore. Senescence in fishes in general (Reznick et al. 2002), and livebearing fishes in particular, is well documented (Reznick et al. 2006), but any effect this may have on male choice is unknown. Nonetheless, almost all studies that looked at male preferences for size did find a preference for larger females (Dosen and Montgomerie 2004b), with a notable exception in the Least Killifish, Heterandria formosa (Ala-Honkola et al. 2010). This study seems to be the only one that found a preference for smaller males in Figure 1. Hypothesized relationship between male mate choice, female com- a binary choice test, and a lack of preference in an open field test. petition, and female ornamentation. The authors suggest that the absence of a preference may be driven by the strong first male precedence found in sperm competition. It is also possible, however, that publication bias exists and that studies sexually selected ornaments. Although clearly unlikely to evolve reporting no preference are less likely to be published (e.g., Scherer due to male investment, empirically, male preferences have been U., Tiedemann R., Schlupp I., submitted for publication). A majority documented in several species within this family. However, even of studies did document a clear preference for larger females in mul- males that invest very little can be selected to respond to differences tiple taxa (Herdman et al. 2004; Guevara-Fiore et al. 2010; Arriaga in female quality (Edward and Chapman 2011) and most authors and Schlupp 2013; Head et al. 2015). Fundamentally, this predom- assume that male preferences in this group evolved due to significant inance of male preference for larger females is matched with similar differences in female fecundity. Alternatively, this may simply be the preferences in females, in other taxa (Ryan and Keddy-Hector 1992) easiest hypothesis to test, with other ideas still awaiting attention. beyond livebearing fishes. As we discuss the potential evolution Also, males should be able to distinguish between females of differ- of male mate choice in response to differences in female quality ent quality, but preferences can also be based on sensory or cognitive (e.g., as differential fecundity) or via other pathways (Edward and bias (Rosenthal 2017). Furthermore, choosiness is typically Chapman 2011), a very commonly invoked explanation is that male expressed with the cost of foregoing some mating opportunities. preferences are expressed via pleiotropy and may simply be due to Fecundity is tightly linked to size in most fishes (Helfman et al. the existence of evolved female preferences. They would not have 2009). In livebearing fishes, male growth rates slow down once they evolved independently and might not even be adaptive. reach maturity (Snelson 1984; Morris and Ryan 1990). Females, Interestingly, males and females can show preferences—seemingly however, continue to grow throughout their lives. Because larger for the same trait—body size, but likely for very different reasons. females typically can carry more eggs, males that prefer larger Male preferences seem to be related to a direct benefit, via increased females should have increased fitness. To my knowledge this direct fecundity (although a direct link to fitness remains to be shown link has not been experimentally demonstrated, although many [Dosen and Montgomerie 2004a, 2004b]), whereas female preferen- studies have found male preferences for larger females. However, in ces for large males are thought to be due to indirect genetic benefits Poeciliids a few factors complicate the picture. First, females store (Reynolds and Gross 1992). sperm and can use stored sperm for several months to fertilize eggs (Greven 2011). It is not clear that males can directly assess how many eggs a female carries (although in a related family, Goodeidae, Relevant Theoretical Treatment of Male a male preference for females with wider bellies was reported Mate Choice [Me ´ ndez-Janovitz and Macı ´as Garcia 2017], and in 2 Livebearers, females are known to prefer well-fed males with an extended belly As male mate choice has moved more into the mainstream of sexual [Fisher and Rosenthal 2006, Plath et al. 2005]) or how many may selection research (Clutton-Brock 2007; Edward and Chapman 2011), be available for fertilization. Second, in most species, females cannot additional theoretical analysis of male mate choice has been published conceal pregnancies due to a significant change in body shape. (for a recent review, see Fitzpatrick and Servedio, this volume; Hence, body shape is probably not an ornament, and it is not clear if Fitzpatrick and Servedio 2018; Servedio 2007; Fitzpatrick and females evolved to honestly advertise fecundity. Third, females go Servedio 2017). In a somewhat simplified view, male mate choice can through a sexual cycle of roughly 30 days and appear to be fully cap- evolve when mate availability is larger than the capacity to mate with, able of receiving sperm from males only during a few days during due to which there is recognizable variation in female quality and the the cycle, or right after parturition (Parzefall 1973). This means that benefit of choice is larger than the cost (Edward and Chapman 2011). the operational sex ratio is almost always male biased, with many A classical view in population ecology was that males did not matter more males available to inseminate females than females being re- much, but this has been corrected (Rankin and Kokko 2007). It needs ceptive for males. Fourth, the relationship between female body size to be acknowledged, again, that male mate choice (just like female and fecundity is not uniform across all species. In other words, the ornaments; see Section on Female ornaments), might not be adaptive, slope of the regression line describing the relationship between fe- but may be expressed due to pleiotropy. Recently, relative searching cundity and size is not the same for all species. How this might influ- time (RST), the proportion of lifetime invested into mate search has ence the evolution and potentially the strength of male preference is been suggested as an important factor shaping the evolution of choosi- not well understood (Arriaga and Schlupp 2013). In addition, this ness (Etienne et al. 2014; Courtiol et al. 2016). This approach empha- relationship of fecundity and size can be confounded by superfeta- sizes the role of direct benefits in the evolution of mate choice. For tion (Pollux and Reznick 2011), which evolved several times inde- example, one study (Head et al. 2015) argues that males should be pendently within the family. Superfetation means that females carry choosier when encountering females simultaneously, as compared broods of different stages at any given time. This provides a fertile with sequential encounters, because there is no opportunity cost. ground for asking how males actually judge female fecundity based Empirically, preferences were indeed—as predicted—stronger during on female size. Finally, very large females may not be of high value simultaneous encounters, but the number of sperms transferred and in- to males because they may be senescing, and not reproducing semination success were unaffected. Theory also predicts that male Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/cz/article-abstract/64/3/393/4962603 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 Schlupp Male mate choice 395 mate choice will not easily evolve under sequential mate choice condi- In the sailfin molly Poecilia latipinna, for example, males of tions (Barry and Kokko 2010). These authors rightly call for rigorous intermediate size can show courtship behavior when accompanied tests of male mate choice, going beyond just describing the existence by small males and sneaky copulation attempts when accompanied of male preferences. by large males (Travis and Woodward 1989). These sneaky copula- Overall, one could argue that there is still a mismatch between tion attempts and the associated sexual harassment (Magurran and theoretical predictions and empirical evidence, as models often Seghers 1994a, 1994b; Clutton-Brock and Parker 1995) are very argue that male mate choice will evolve only under a limited set of common and can be the only male mating behavior in some species conditions (Barry and Kokko 2010), yet, empirically, an increasing (Plath et al. 2007). They are best understood as male strategies to number of studies in a variety of taxa other than fishes (e.g., insects circumvent female choice in the context of sexual conflict. Males in [Bonduriansky 2001] or amphibians [Krupa 1995]) do report the some species can switch from courtship to sneaking dynamically; in widespread presence of male mate choice. other species, the trait is genetically fixed. Often larger males show courtship (and other ornamentation), whereas smaller males rely on sneaky copulation attempts, and consequently being around larger males is less costly for females (Schlupp et al. 2001; Makowicz and Natural History of Livebearing Fishes Schlupp 2013). Probably the best understood example is a swordtail, Xiphophorus nigrensis, where a balanced polymorphism for 2 male Species in the family Poeciliidae are ideally suited to test the fecund- morphs has been documented (Ryan et al. 1992). ity hypothesis of male mate choice as outlined above. As there are Also, in many species males can be very colorful. Many colors are likely no or few benefits to male mate choice other than increased fe- in the red and orange, but black spots are known from many species. cundity, this seems to be the default explanation for the existence of The red and orange ornaments are produced by carotenoids or pteri- male mate choice. Poeciliids are generally small, freshwater fishes dines in chromatophores (Grether 2001). Black spots are generated by that tend to be ecological generalists. The family is widespread from melanocytes, and are thought of as enhancers (Brooks 1996). the United States of America to South America, with a center of di- Interestingly, there is a widespread parasitic disease, named Black versity in Mexico. Roughly 200 species in 29 genera are currently Spot Disease that also results in black spots (Tobler and Schlupp recognized (Hrbek et al. 2007, Meredith et al. 2010). Members of 2008a, 2008b). Occasionally, white ornaments are observed, for ex- the family are widely used in biological research, including ecology, ample, in Poecilia gillii. Finally, males and females can have structural evolution, and animal behavior, but also genetics, genomics, and colors, often as iridescent blues. In many species, males have exagger- cancer research (Evans et al. 2011). The group is characterized by ated dorsal fins, which are often displayed to females during courtship internal fertilization and ovoviviparity, where females give live birth (MacLaren and Rowland 2006). In one group, swordtails of the genus to a relatively small number of offspring that have developed in the Xiphopohorus, males of some species have evolved extended rays of female. Males have a modified anal fin, called the gonopodium, the tail fin (Rosenthal and Evans 1998), in at least one species which is used to transfer sperm (Greven 2011) and plays a role in Xiphophorus montezumae, exceeding the length of the body of the evolution and speciation (Langerhans et al. 2005, 2007). Other im- male. These appendages are thought to mimic large male body size portant traits, however, like superfetation or courtship, have (Rosenthal 2017). Color and black spots are found in females of evolved several times within the family (Parenti and Rauchenberger many species (see Section on Female ornaments for a discussion), but 1989; Meredith et al. 2011). Females show lifelong growth, while no exaggerated fins (MacLaren and Fontaine 2013). It might be male growth slows down significantly after they mature (Snelson worthwhile to point out here that color and spotting patterns may 1984). Consequently, females are often larger than males (Bisazza arise also under natural selection, not just by sexual selection. and Pilastro 1997). It is not entirely clear what the evolutionary benefit of this is, but females might grow too big for some of their gape-limited predators. Generally, the mating system is character- Definitions ized by promiscuity, with males either trying to court females or force copulations. Courtship evolved multiple times independently Before I begin to review male mate choice in livebearing fishes, I within the family, and genera can be polymorphic for this trait want to provide an operational definition of “mate choice.” I am (Plath et al. 2007). Even within some species, such as sailfin mollies using the definition recently suggested by Rosenthal (2017): “Mate (Travis and Woodward 1989), males can be polymorphic and some choice can be defined as any aspect of an animal’s phenotype that size classes will show courtship whereas others may not (Rios- leads to it being more likely to engage in sexual activity with certain Cardenas and Morris 2011). Courtship displays usually involve individuals than with others.” Note that this definition parts elegant- males presenting themselves in front of a female, or showing elabor- ly from the problematic traditional usage of sex roles (Ah-King and ate motion patterns either in front or sideways of the female (Rios- Ahnesjo ¨ 2013). Consequently, Rosenthal (2017) replaces female and Cardenas and Morris 2011). Coloration and courtship has been male with the terms chooser and courter, which can be of any sex. I implicated in increased mortality rates for males (Garcia et al. 1998, fully agree with this definition, but for the purpose of this review I Godin and McDonough 2003), but males from non-courting species retain the usage of male and female as a heuristic tool, to reflect the can also experience high sex-specific mortality (Tobler et al. 2008), existing difference in the ecology of early investment into gametes, so that not only courtship can be blamed for this pattern. Females, without acknowledging specific sex roles. I think that we eventually especially because they are larger and more profitable prey, may have to realize that mate choice is best understood as a continuum also be at higher risk by size-selective predators (Trexler et al. with the traditional sex roles of male and female confined to the ex- 1994). Generally, it should be taken into account that most of our treme ends. I suggest that in reality in most mating systems, females knowledge of mating behavior in Poeciliids stems from relatively and males both have preferences, exercise choice, and resolve the few, well-studied species, such as the guppy Poecilia reticulata, some underlying sexual conflict in some form of mutual mate choice. swordtails Xiphophorus sp., and several mollies Poecilia sp., while Another term that needs to be defined is “preference.” Again, other genera and species are far less well studied. I use a definition by Rosenthal (2017): “a chooser’s internal Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/cz/article-abstract/64/3/393/4962603 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 396 Current Zoology, 2018, Vol. 64, No. 3 representation of courter traits that predisposes it to mate with some have used preference functions (Wagner 1998), in which 2 or more phenotypes over others.” The difference between choice and prefer- females are presented singly in random order (Arriaga and Schlupp ence is that we can assess choice by measuring actual sexual behav- 2013, Spikes and Schlupp, manuscript in preparation). iors, while preferences can also be measured indirectly, for example, One of the few studies directly comparing male and female choice using association times (Wagner 1998). One thing that can dictate was conducted by Ptacek and Travis (1997) looking at mate preferen- how we measure preference or choice is the obviously interactive na- ces in sailfin mollies P. latipinna. The study also stands out because it ture of actual mating, which involves behaviors from both individu- used multiple populations, investigating population variation in the als. Ironically, this sometimes requires that we separate individuals traits under consideration. This seems especially relevant in species in a choice test, because we are interested in their “pure” preferen- that have a wide range. This is the case in the sailfin molly, which ces, not the outcome of an interaction between 2 partners. occurs from Wilmington, NC southward to roughly Tuxpan in Finally, an ornament is a trait that is likely to have arisen via sex- Mexico (Schlupp et al. 2002). The study by Ptacek and Travis (1997) ual or social selection, and plays a role in mate choice by making the reported that both males and females generally prefer larger partners bearer attractive to choosers, often at a cost to survival. Ornaments and that, larger males showed stronger preferences for female size. are often sexually dimorphic, but they do not have to be. They do Male mate choice is particularly well researched in guppies, not have to have a function outside of social interactions. often combined with studying the role of social influences on mate choice (Auld and Godin 2015; Auld et al. 2015, 2016, 2017; Jeswiet et al. 2011, 2012) (see also Section on Male mate choice and social Historical Studies on Interspecific Male Choice information). In general, male preferences for larger females have been found many times (Dosen and Montgomerie 2004b; Herdman In the 1960s and 1970s, the seminal papers by Hamilton (1964a, et al. 2004), often, but not always, using just visual information. 1964b), triggered a Kuhnian paradigm shift (Kuhn 1962), which led In a study by Herdman et al. (2004), visual information was not to recognizing the gene as unit of selection in biology providing a sufficient for males to show a preference, but males did show a new framework for biology, including mate choice. However, there preference when allowed to access other information as well. Another was already considerable interest in male mate choice, including in study using guppies documented that results from open field tests and livebearing fishes prior to this paradigm shift. Consequently, very binary choice tests are correlated and yield comparable results (Jeswiet early, livebearing fishes emerged as important model organisms in and Godin 2011). Mosquitofish, G. holbrooki,werealso found to the study of mate choice. This early work was focused on questions have a preference for larger females (Hoysak and Godin 2007). of species recognition and isolating mechanisms; historically, female Females can differ in quality in many different ways, and virgin choice had not yet been recognized as very important (Milam 2010). females might be of very high value, especially in systems with first Very importantly, with more female scientists conducting and pub- male sperm precedence. In this case, mating with a virgin female lishing research on Sexual Selection beginning in the 1990s, more might secure a large number of offspring for the male that inseminates studies on female choice appeared (Zuk 1993). In a broader context, a female first. In guppies, males do not distinguish visually between this provides a cautionary tale of how societal conditions influence virgin and mated females, but in an open field test, where males and and often hinder scientific work. Early on, Haskins and Haskins females could fully interact, males directed more sexual behaviors to- (1949, 1950) published their studies of male mate choice in guppies ward virgin females. However, they showed more coercive, sneaky and some close relatives and reported evidence for male preferences copulations toward previously mated females (Guevara-Fiore et al. for conspecific females and also provided a first comment on the 2009). Males also invested more effort into mating with females that role of size in male mate choice: “It is well known that males of were in the receptive phase of their sexual cycle (Guevara-Fiore et al. Lebistes, when exposed to several females of their own species, tend 2010). Finally, males of Brachyrhaphis episcopi, a species from to pay most attention to the largest individuals .. .” [note: Lebistes Panama, preferred familiar females, but this preference was modu- reticulatus was the recognized name for the guppy at the time] lated by predation risk (Simcox et al. 2005). Another trait that may (Haskins and Haskins 1949). Another early account of male mate be used in male choice is a brood spot (or gravid spot) that is found in choice in the context of species recognition was offered by Hubbs many livebearing fishes. A recent study found that size and intensity and Delco (1960). In this article, the authors describe a conspecific of the gravid spot are correlated with clutch size (Norazmi-Lokman preference in 4 species of Gambusia. They conclude that most spe- et al. 2016), which may potentially be used by males in mate choice. cies indeed show the predicted species preference, but that G. affinis Cave mollies are a special population of the Atlantic molly, which does not. They note that this may explain why G. affinis is involved has colonized a hydrogensulfide (H S) rich, toxic cave in Tabasco, in many interspecific hybridization events. A recent study revisits Mexico (Tobler and Plath 2011). This population is widely used to this topic and found strong male preferences for conspecifics study effects of both toxicity and darkness on mollies, often addressing (Espinedo et al. 2010) in sympatric G. affinis and G. geiseri. ecological speciation (Riesch et al. 2011). Cave mollies are capable of mate choice both in darkness and in light. One study found that males Male Choice within Populations of both the surface and cave form have a preference for larger females, but only cave mollies show the preference in darkness (Plath et al. Generally based on the notion that larger females would provide a dir- 2006). Males of the surface form, but not males of the cave form can ect fecundity benefit to males, later studies started investigating male deceive other males relative to their mate choice (Plath et al. 2010;see choice. Virtually all studies used binary choice tests. In such a test, a also Section on Male mate choice and social information). male is simultaneously exposed to (typically) 2 females that differ in the trait under investigation and can reveal his preference by approach- ing the females. The measured variable is typically association time, Mechanisms of Male Mate Choice which is generally a good proxy for preference (Bischoff et al. 1985; Berglund 1993; Kodric-Brown 1993; Witte 2006), especially in male Documenting male mate choice would be incomplete without look- mate choice (Jeswiet and Godin 2011). Very few published studies ing at the mechanisms (see Section on Male mate choice and social Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/cz/article-abstract/64/3/393/4962603 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 Schlupp Male mate choice 397 information) that are used in male mate choice. Turbidity, for ex- changes by modulating the environment for sperm in their ovaries ample, was found to slow down decision-making in sailfin mollies (Gasparini and Pilastro 2011; Gasparini et al. 2012). These interac- P. latipinna (Heubel and Schlupp 2006). A separate study found that tions seem to reflect an ongoing sexual conflict (Parker 2006). male choice is also affected by seasonality (Heubel and Schlupp Clearly, mating in livebearing fishes is often characterized by in- 2008). A study using G. affinis documented that males rejected tense sexual conflict (Chapman et al. 2003, Scha ¨ rer et al. 2012)in females that were parasitized with nematodes, presumably because which male or female preferences may be undermined or thwarted the infection reduces fecundity (Deaton 2009; Cureton et al. 2011). by the behavior of their mate. Forced copulations (Magurran 2001) Furthermore, in the Atlantic molly, personality affects male mate and sexual harassment (Plath et al. 2007; Heubel and Plath 2008) choice and bolder males respond more strongly to the presence of an are common throughout the family and probably lead to significant audience (Bierbach et al. 2015). Interestingly, in G. holbrooki, dom- differences between measurable mate preferences and actual repro- inant females were preferred by males, whereas size had no signifi- ductive outcomes (Rosenthal 2017). cant effect (Chen et al. 2011). This is an important finding, because it shows that other factors—not only size—likely play an important Male Choice for Correct Female Species: The role in male mate choice. MacLaren and Fontaine (2013) explored a potential female ornament in X. variatus, a species of swordtail Amazon Molly as an Example without a sword. They found that males preferred larger body size The ecology of male investment relative to the mating value of the fe- in females, but not larger fins. Larger fins in males are often pre- male can drive the evolution of male mate choice. In pipefish, male in- ferred by females and could serve as an indicator trait for females vestment is very high and they have evolved to be selective. In other (McLaren et al. 2004). Apparently this is not the case for males. cases, the mating value of certain females may be so low that males Finally, a general concern with mate choice studies is how reliable evolve to reject them. The latter is the case in males facing a choice be- the data collected are. This has been addressed in a few studies tween heterospecific Amazon mollies P. formosa and their conspecific investigating how repeatable male mate choice is, finding very low females. Amazon mollies are an all-female, clonal species of fish of hy- repeatability (Gabor and Aspbury 2008). By contrast, a study on brid origin (Hubbs and Hubbs 1932, Schlupp and Riesch 2011). The guppies (Godin and Auld 2013) reported that male mate choice is maternal ancestor is the Atlantic molly P. mexicana and the paternal fairly consistent, and a study on the swordtail X. nigrensis also ancestor is the sailfin molly P. latipinna. The single, original hybridiza- found relatively good repeatability (Cummings and Mollaghan tion apparently took place about 100,000 generations ago in an area 2006). Clearly more studies on this topic are needed. Low repeat- near present-day Tampico (Sto ¨ ck et al. 2010; Warren et al. 2018), but ability between individuals may reflect many different things, see Alberici da Barbiano et al. (2013). Amazon mollies reproduce by including problematic experimental design. But it may also reflect gynogenesis, where sperm simply serves as stimulus for embryonic de- true changes in a chooser’s preferences, especially when responding velopment, but is typically not incorporated into the offspring to conditional traits. (Schlupp 2005). Based on this, the sperm-providing males are general- Very little is known about the many other factors that are ly predicted to prefer conspecifics to heterospecifics. The Amazon recognized in female choice, including preferences for Major molly uses at least 3 species as sperm donors: its 2 parental species, P. Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) compatibility and inbreeding latipinna and P. mexicana,and P. latipunctata (Tamesi molly), an en- avoidance. It is well known that learning plays a role in mate choice demic species found near Ciudad Mante. Sailfin and Atlantic mollies (Verzijden et al. 2012) (see Section on Male mate choice and social not only show populations that occur in sympatry with Amazon mol- information for discussion of social influences), and that there are sex lies, but also populations that occur in allopatry. This creates an op- differences in learning. In guppies, for example, females are twice as portunity for work comparing characters, including male mate choice efficient in reversal learning (Petrazzini et al. 2017), possibly indicating between allopatric and sympatric populations (Gabor and Ryan that females have a generally higher cognitive flexibility. 2001, Gabor et al. 2005). More importantly, this situation can be used to make very clear predictions relative to male mate choice. For males the fitness return Cost to Males and Cryptic Male Choice for mating with Amazon mollies is very low. Even if the cost of mat- Females make strong investments into their eggs. By comparison, ing is low or moderate, males should evolve to prefer conspecific sperm and mating are less costly. It is important to realize, however, females, or lower their cost by investing less into heterospecific cop- that sperm is not free. There is growing evidence that males can be ulations. Via mate copying, a process of using social information in sperm depleted and that the costs of mating (viewed inclusively, and mate choice (Witte et al. 2015; Varela et al. 2018), males gain an in- counting, e.g. cost for sperm, ejaculates, courtship behavior, preda- direct fitness benefit offsetting some of the cost of heterospecific tion risk, and lost opportunities) can be high for some males as com- matings: the interactions of a sexual male and an Amazon molly are pared with other males (Anthes et al. 2014, Hardling et al. 2008). observed by conspecific females and make that male more attractive Consequently, males may evolve mechanisms to exercise cryptic mate to conspecific females. Interestingly, males have also been shown to choice and allocate ejaculates and sperm strategically (Matthews et al. copy the mate choice of other males (Schlupp and Ryan 1997; 1997; Schlupp and Plath 2005; Riesch et al. 2008; Robinson et al. Bierbach et al. 2011). 2008, 2011), and also prime sperm relative to species identity Male mate choice in this complex has been intensively studied (Aspbury and Gabor 2004b) and female size (Aspbury and Gabor (reviewed in Schlupp 2009; Schlupp and Riesch 2011). Often the 2004a). Sperm priming is a mechanism that makes sperm ready to be “wrong” mating decisions are viewed as mistakes, and several stud- ejaculated. Furthermore, there is growing evidence—at least in gup- ies looked into potential mechanisms for the mistakes. Interestingly, pies—that males differ in sperm and ejaculate characteristics based on theory does not predict the evolution of perfect male choice (Heubel age (Gasparini et al. 2010), and that they can adjust to changes in the et al. 2009), and it seems that evolving very strong preferences is social environment very quickly (Boschetto et al. 2011; Barrett et al. costly to the sexual males. Nonetheless, an older study, for example, 2014; Cattelan et al. 2016). Females appear to respond to these found that male Atlantic mollies show species recognition when Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/cz/article-abstract/64/3/393/4962603 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 398 Current Zoology, 2018, Vol. 64, No. 3 choosing between visually presented conspecific and Amazon molly (Yoshikawa et al. 2016): dull males abandoned approaches to females, but that females undermine this probably with chemical sig- females in the presence of bright males. This shows the importance nals when they are post-partum (Schlupp et al. 1991). In this case, of including information about the tested subjects into our interpret- females seem to win the underlying evolutionary arm-race. ation of male mate choice. In this context, more studies on the role Chemical information alone, however, is insufficient for species rec- of learning in male mate choice would be very useful. ognition (Aspbury et al. 2010). A study of sailfin mollies (Muraco Finally, deceptive behavior is relatively rare. Therefore, one of et al. 2014), documented the existence of distinct male behavioral the more striking recent findings is that males of the Atlantic molly phenotypes or personalities, but found no strong correlation with seem to be able to deceive other males by interacting with females male preferences. A unique feature of this mating system highlights they initially did not prefer in the presence of other males. This was the complexity of mating interactions: Amazon mollies are known documented in the surface form of the Atlantic mollies (Plath et al. to actively intervene in conspecific mating attempts (Schlupp et al. 2008b), but not in the Cave molly (Plath et al. 2010) or in guppies 1991; Foran and Ryan 1994). They sometimes approach mating (Makowicz et al. 2010). A theoretical model of this process pairs of sailfin mollies and maneuver themselves into the position of (Castellano et al. 2016) indicated that this kind of deceptive behav- the sexual female, thereby redirecting the mating to them. ior is not very likely to evolve. Most importantly, in this system, male mate choice has been hypothesized to drive the system and play an important role in the Female Competition apparent ecological stability of the coexistence of Amazon mollies and its hosts (Schlupp 2009), essentially via frequency-dependent Another important question in this context is if males are choosy, do male mate choice. This coexistence is an ecological puzzle because females start competing over males? Female competition is probably the Amazon mollies should quickly outcompete their sexual host. widespread, but documentation of direct female competition over The role of male mate choice in the stability has been explored in a males is relatively rare (Rosvall 2013; Cain and Rosvall 2014). Most series of papers presenting evidence that both in the laboratory and female competition seems to be relative to resources other than in the field, female Amazon mollies receive fewer sperm from males males (Scharnweber et al. 2011a, 2011b), but at least 2 studies of one of their hosts, the sailfin molly (Aspbury and Gabor 2004b, (Schlupp et al. 1991; Foran and Ryan 1994), found that Amazon schlupp and Plath 2005; Riesch et al. 2008, 2012; Robinson et al. molly females will actively compete for males. Furthermore, female 2008. Furthermore, male mate choice changes over the season, po- sailfin mollies appear to be suppressing the feeding efficiency of tentially in response to changing frequencies of Amazon mollies in Amazon mollies (Alberici da Barbiano et al. 2010). A field study in nature (Heubel and Schlupp 2008). Atlantic mollies (Heubel and Plath 2008), pointed toward intensive between species competition over males and other resources. This view is supported by recent experimental work on female aggression Male Mate Choice and Social Information and competition (Makowicz and Schlupp 2013, 2015, Makowicz et al. 2016). This research can be a template for more work on with- Mating is by nature an interactive process. Mating decisions are in- in species competition, as we seem to know relatively little about creasingly viewed as interactions that take in a public realm, and often within species female competition. Theoretically, females might other individuals observe these interactions (Danchin et al. 2004). Male compete over males if they show signs of sperm depletion. mosquitofish G. holbrooki, for example, are attracted to all-female groups (Agrillo et al. 2008) and the authors conclude that males are capable of recognizing important properties of the presented groups. Female Ornaments The general question of how an audience (known to the focal in- dividual) or eavesdropping (audience unknown to the focal individ- In parallel to the effects of female choice on males, does male choice ual) might alter sexual preferences is a relatively young line of have the potential to drive the evolution of female ornaments? inquiry. It should be noted that for social species, a situation where Logically, if males are choosy this could induce sexual selection on mating happens in public is more likely to be the default, not a more females and lead to female ornamentation. It should be noted, how- private situation, which is often assumed in laboratory choice tests. ever, that traits that are detrimental to female fitness are not likely In addition to studying effects on female choice, there is also a to evolve under male mate choice (Fitzpatrick and Servedio 2018). strong emerging literature on social influences on male mate choice. Male ornaments are typically under selection by females, which This includes mate copying (see above for examples using the have preferences for elaborate, and often costly, ornaments Amazon molly system) in guppies (Auld and Godin 2015), but also (Andersson 1994). Whether preferring ornamented males confers a general audience effects (Jordan et al. 2006; Plath et al. 2008a; Auld fitness advantage to females is not always clear, especially when in- et al. 2015). Responses by males to another male as an audience are direct benefits are invoked. One also has to keep in mind that not all surprisingly fine-tuned. For example, several studies documented dimorphic traits are automatically ornamental and under sexual se- that the response of a focal male guppy is influenced by the size of lection. To complicate things further, we are very likely to miss im- the audience male, potentially minimizing sperm-competition risk portant traits because they are difficult for humans to assess. Recent (Jeswiet et al. 2012; No ¨ bel and Witte 2013; Auld et al. 2017). One work has highlighted the role of visual ornaments that are in the UV mechanism for mediating this might be to manipulate their chances wavelengths that we can measure, but not see, in mate choice and of obtaining copulations by selectively associating with less attract- predation avoidance (Cummings et al. 2003, 2006). Beyond that ive individuals and also reduce sperm competition this way. This is there are aspects of chemical communication, or lateral line commu- indeed what a study on guppies found: males preferred females that nication that we cannot fathom. Even acoustical communication, al- were surrounded by drab males, presumably because those pose a though very unlikely (Schulz-Mirbach et al. 2010; Schulz-Mirbach lesser threat in sperm competition (Gasparini et al. 2013). et al. 2011), should not be completely ruled out. One example In guppies, male mate choice can also be modified based on the would be the role of chemical information in species recognition and perceived difference between self and the value of an opponent female mate preference (McLennan and Ryan 1997; Fisher et al. Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/cz/article-abstract/64/3/393/4962603 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 Schlupp Male mate choice 399 2006; Plath and Tobler 2007; Rosenthal et al. 2011; Ru ¨ schenbaum choice has been documented in several species within the family, and Schlupp 2013). mainly for female size, but also for female species. Based on this, it is not clear if female Poeciliids have ornaments. Restricting my argument to coloration, clearly females in many spe- Outlook cies have color, but I am not aware of any coloration that would be easily interpreted as a female ornament. In all cases the males seem 1. Male mate choice, female competition, and female ornamenta- to have similar coloration, which means the trait is either not an or- tion are tightly connected. While male mate choice has been sur- nament and has evolved under natural selection (e.g., black spots prisingly well documented in livebearing ﬁshes, the other 2 might contribute to crypsis) or could be expressed due to pleiotropy elements are poorly understood. Nonetheless, this provides an as a result of a genetic correlation with males. One example would excellent basis for future research. be the black spots and orange coloration in the Cuban Limia, Limia 2. More work is needed to document and understand female com- vittata. Both sexes seem to have equal amounts of black spotting, petition for males. Right now it is not very clear if this even but orange is less common in females than in males. The black spots exists. could make the fishes cryptic in their environment by dissolving the 3. Females have a number of traits that might be considered orna- body outline, and the expression of orange could be some form of mental, but how they evolved and if they are preferred by males, evolutionary byproduct, due to pleiotropie, or beneficial to females is less studied. due to the general advantages often ascribed to carotenoids, such as 4. More interaction between theoretical and empirical studies anti-parasite properties (Olson and Owens 1998; Martin and would be beneﬁcial. Johnsen 2007). In the black-finned goodeid, Girardinichthys vivipa- 5. So far, variability in female fecundity is viewed as the driver of rus, a preference for orange hue in females was described (Me ´ ndez- male mate choice, but there might be many more traits in which Janovitz and Macı ´as Garcia 2017), but interestingly, female color- females differ and that might be used in male mate choice. ation was not associated with fecundity and negatively associated 6. Better evidence for the adaptive beneﬁt of choosing larger with offspring survival. Furthermore, in Salmon, male preferences females is needed. The large variability in fecundity found in for red have been documented (Foote et al. 2004) and extensive livebearing ﬁshes, should allow for comparative tests. studies in birds on the species level have recently shown that the de- 7. In recent decades, much progress has been made understanding gree of ornamentation in females is often correlated to the ornamen- the perceptual and cognitive aspects of female mate choice tation found in males, but that sexual selection and also life-history (Ryan and Cummings 2013), without similar attention to male characteristics can influence the degree of dimorphism (Rubenstein mate choice. and Lovette 2009; Dale et al. 2015). In livebearing fishes, a similar 8. Finally, there is signiﬁcant taxonomic bias, even within the live- analysis would be very useful. bearing ﬁshes. A majority of studies conducted use guppies; For the green swordtail X. hellerii, a very interesting potential fe- clearly more diversity would be important. male signal has been suggested. Females of that species (and others) are known to perform “headstands” and males prefer this behavior to females showing regular swimming (Fernandez et al. 2008). Acknowledgments Without further investigation, it is difficult to say if this behavior is I am very grateful for the many people that helped me understand mate any kind of advertisement, but the possibility is intriguing. In other choice, including colleagues and students, but especially to the participants groups of fishes, female ornaments have been suggested, such as fe- (both speakers and discussants) of the symposium “Integrating Male Mate male eye color, which can indicate readiness to spawn (Olsson et al. Choice, Female Competition, and Female Ornaments” and the organizers of 2017) in sand gobies. the Behaviour conference in Estoril, Portugal. You were all very generous with your time and knowledge. I have tried to be as inclusive as time and space allowed, but most likely I have missed some important published work. Same-sex Behavior For that I apologize. I am grateful for the very helpful reviews provided by 3 anonymous reviewers. All wrong opinions, of course, are solely mine. No Many species show same-sex behavior, but almost nothing is known external funding was received for this paper. I acknowledge generous support about this in livebearing fishes. Yet, clearly if we discuss mate choice from the University of Oklahoma. in general, and male mate choice in particular, potential preferences for members of the same sex needs to be considered (Poiani 2010). In one study (Field and Waite 2004), using guppies, the authors References found that males can show same-sex behavior after long times of Agrillo C, Dadda M, Serena G, 2008. Choice of female groups by male mos- isolation from females. Interestingly, male sexual behaviors toward quitoﬁsh Gambusia holbrooki. Ethology 114:479–488. males persisted even after exposure to females. Another study, con- Ah-King M, Ahnesjo ¨ I, 2013. The “Sex Role” concept: an overview and evalu- ducted on Atlantic mollies, suggests that same-sex behavior is bene- ation. Evol Biol 40:461–470. ficial to males as it makes them more attractive to females via the Ala–Honkola O, Saila L, Lindstro ¨ m K, 2010. Males prefer small females in a use of social information (Bierbach et al. 2013). It is apparent from dichotomous choice test in the Poeciliid ﬁsh Heterandria formosa. Ethology 116:736–743. the lack of studies that much more work is needed on this topic. 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Current Zoology – Oxford University Press
Published: Apr 6, 2018
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