Fitness Correlates of Male Coloration in a Lake Victoria Cichlid Fish

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2006
Authors:M. E. Maan, Van Der Spoel, M. , Jimenez, P. Q. , Van Alphen, J. J. M. , Seehausen, O.
Journal:Behavioral Ecology
Accession Number:7135766
Keywords:01423 Behaviour, Article Geographic Terms: Africa, Victoria L., Article Subject Terms: Carotenoids, Article Taxonomic Terms: Cichlidae, Coloration, Colour, D 04040 Ecosystem and Ecology Studies, Dominance, Evolution, fitness, Freshwater fish, hierarchies, Home range, Lakes, nyererei, Parasites, Phenotypes, Pundamilia, Q1, Reproductive behaviour, sexual selection, Territory, Y 25040 Behavioral Ecology

Sexual selection by female choice has contributed to the rapid evolution of phenotypic diversity in the cichlid fish species flocks of East Africa. Yet, very little is known about the ecological mechanisms that drive the evolution of female mating preferences. We studied fitness correlates of male nuptial coloration in a member of a diverse Lake Victoria cichlid lineage, Pundamilia nyererei. In this species, male red coloration is subject to intraspecific sexual selection by female mate choice. Male nuptial coloration plays a critical role also in reproductive isolation between this species and the closely related sympatric species P. pundamilia. Here, we show that P. nyererei male coloration is carotenoid based, illustrating the potential for honest signaling of individual quality. In a wild population, we found that variation in male coloration was not associated with variation in a set of strongly intercorrelated indicators of male dominance: male size, territory size, and territory location. Instead, the 2 male characters that predominantly determine female choice, territory size and red coloration, may be independent predictors of male quality: males with bright red coloration and large territories had lower parasite infestation rates. As a result, female preferences tended to select against heavily parasitized males. Consistent with parasite-mediated sexual selection, males had higher and more variable parasite loads than females.

Alternate Journal:Behav. Ecol.

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