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Sexual Selection in the Three-Spined Stickleback: Ii. Nest Raiding During the Courtship Phase

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The purpose of this experiment was to test the hypothesis that the disruptive acts (nest raiding), directed by male three-spined sticklebacks, Gasterosteus aculeatus L., toward the eggs and nests of conspecific males evolved as a result of intrasexual selection. We compared the frequency with which a resident male was raided by neighbors when a transparent cylinder containing a male was introduced into his territory, with the frequency of raiding during the presence of a similarly introduced female. On the basis of the intrasexual selection hypothesis, we predicted that raiding should occur more often when the female was present. We also studied the relationship between raiding and the relative dominance status of raided and raiding males. If raiding and dominance conflict are alternative strategies in intrasexual competition, then raiding should have been most intense when raided and raiding males were least discrepant in dominance status. Resident males responded appropriately to introduced fish, i.e., with more courtship and nesting behavior toward females and more aggression toward males. Introduced females were much more effective in eliciting raiding by neighbors than introduced males. The highest status neighbors tended to raid the most. There was some evidence that raiding reduced the raided male's courtship motivation. The outcome of the study is compatible with the hypothesis that nest raiding is adaptive because it increases the relative attractiveness of the raider to females.


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Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis, Calif., U.S.A.


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