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Female mating preferences in blind cave tetras Astyanax fasciatus (Characidae, Teleostei)

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The Mexican tetra Astyanax fasciatus has evolved a variety of more or less color- and eyeless cave populations. Here we examined the evolution of the female preference for large male body size within different populations of this species, either surface- or cave-dwelling. Given the choice between visual cues from a large and a small male, females from the surface form as well as females from an eyed cave form showed a strong preference for large males. When only non-visual cues were presented in darkness, the surface females did not prefer either males. Among the six cave populations studied, females of the eyed cave form and females of one of the five eyeless cave populations showed a preference for large males. Apparently, not all cave populations of Astyanax have evolved non-visual mating preferences. We discuss the role of selection by benefits of non-visual mate choice for the evolution of non-visual mating preferences.

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