NCEAS Product 15220

Luttbeg, Barney. 2004. Female mate assessment and choice behavior affect the frequency of alternative male mating tactics. Behavioral Ecology. Vol: 15(2). Pages 239-247. (Abstract)

Abstract

Explanations for the existence of alternative male mating tactics focus primarily on male┬┐male competition. Mating systems, however, are composed of interactions both within and between the sexes, and the role of female behavior in shaping male mating tactics should not be overlooked. By using a dynamic state variable game model, I examine how female mate assessment and choice behavior affect the frequency of alternative male mating tactics. When females can accurately assess the quality of males, only males with high quality are likely to be chosen as mates, and thus, lower-quality males gain little fitness from courting females. This leads lower-quality males to switch to an alternative mating tactic that attempts to circumvent female mate choice. In contrast, if the abilities of females to accurately assess males are constrained by assessment costs, imperfect information, or time constraints, or if the pool of available males is smaller, then lower-quality males are increasingly chosen as mates and they less often use alternative mating tactics. Thus, female behavior shapes the frequency of alternative male mating tactics. A consequence of this game between the sexes is that male behavior (i.e., increased alternative mating tactics) decreases the benefits females might otherwise gain from lower assessment costs, clearer signals of male quality, more time to choose a male, and more males from which to choose a mate.