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Female Choice of Males in Cuttlefish (Mollusca: Cephalopoda)

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In captivity, male cuttlefish use visual displays to establish size-based dominance hierarchies and larger males obtain most of the copulations. This experiment was performed to determine if females prefer the larger, more dominant males and whether females use male visual displays to evaluate males. Twenty sexually mature, virgin female cuttlefish were given up to six opportunities to approach one of two males out of a pool of ten adult males, or to approach neither. Females did have significant preferences between males, but they were not related to male dominance. Females showed a consistent and significant preference for the more recently mated male. These preferred males were also more likely to mate again, when given the opportunity, than were less-preferred, less-recently mated males. Females also preferred males that showed fewer zebra displays. Viewing male-male interactions did not affect their choices. Results suggest that female preference could be based on chemical cues, while visual displays may function primarily as agonistic signals. Females who mated did so repeatedly before laying eggs, providing opportunity for sperm competition.

Affiliations: 1: (Marine Biomedical Institute, University of Texas Medical Branch, 301 University Boulevard, Galveston, TX 77555-1163, USA

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