A growing body of literature is recognizing that males may also play a role in the mating process by behaving non‐randomly toward potential female mates during courtship. In numerous species, discrete color polymorphisms in males are inferred to represent alternative mating tactics, which often correspond with concomitant asymmetries in ecology and behavior. In terms of their mating behavior, these ecological outcomes of a color polymorphism should affect a morph's likelihood and frequency of encountering females in a population, possibly favoring the evolution of morph‐specific mating preferences. Knowledge of how male morphs contribute to a species’ overall mating dynamics will improve our understanding of how sexual selection shapes phenotypic diversity in color polymorphic systems. We conducted a mate choice experiment to evaluate the extent and morph specificity of non‐random mating preferences by male ornate tree lizards, Urosaurus ornatus. We observed the behavior of blue and yellow males in an experimental arena in response to a choice between an orange or yellow female. We found that blue males preferred yellow females over orange females, and although yellow males visited females more often than blue males overall, their attention was not morph‐specific. Given male morph differences in choosiness, and their differences in social dominance, we conclude that female throat color may be partly under sexual selection in U. ornatus. However, a lack of concordance between male and female mating preferences (drawn from an earlier study) suggests that overall mating dynamics may serve to maintain, rather than enhance, color morph differences in this species.
Ethology – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
Keywords: ; ; ; ;
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