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Condition-dependent mate choice in the guppy: a role for short-term food restriction?

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Condition-dependent mate choice may alter both the strength and direction of sexual selection within species. In this study, the role of short-term food restriction on the mate choice of female guppies was investigated. Food supply to females was restricted over five days, and their mate choice was tested at five day intervals before, during and after the manipulation, each with their own pair of males. Another set of females were also repeatedly tested, but were not food restricted. Food restriction did not affect the mate choice of treatment females, and the mate choice of treatment and control females did not differ. In addition, the mate choice of both food restricted and control females could not be predicted from the colour patterns of males that individual females were paired with, and the mate choice decisions of individual females were not repeatable. To distinguish whether the lack of a treatment effect on mate choice was due to a lack of female response to the treatment, or to a general lack of repeatability in mate choice at five day intervals, the mate choice of females was repeatedly tested at one day intervals. However, in this study, mate choice at one day intervals was also not predictable from male colour patterns, and mate choice was not repeatable. Nevertheless, a third experiment, based on foraging rather than mate choice trials, showed that females that were food restricted for five days altered their feeding behaviour, indicating the treatment did affect female state. Despite this, there was no evidence that mate choice was affected by short term food restriction, although the lack of repeatability in the mate choice of control females at both one and five day intervals means that it cannot be concluded definitively that this population does not show condition-dependent mate choice based on food availability.


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