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Choosy females and indiscriminate males: mate choice in mixed populations of sexual and hybridogenetic water frogs (Rana lessonae, Rana esculenta)


Engeler, B; Reyer, H U (2001). Choosy females and indiscriminate males: mate choice in mixed populations of sexual and hybridogenetic water frogs (Rana lessonae, Rana esculenta). Behavioral Ecology, 12(5):600-606.

Abstract

For several decades, behavioral ecologists have studied the effects of the environment on the behavior of individuals; but only fairly recently they have started to ask the reverse question: how do the behavioral strategies of individuals affect the composition and dynamics of populations and communities? Although intuitively obvious, this feedback from individual to higher levels is difficult to demonstrate, except in systems with exceptionally fast and marked responses of the populations to the behavior of its members. Such a system exists in sperm-dependent species. In European water frogs, for instance, successful reproduction of a hybrid species (R. esculenta, genotype LR) requires mating with one of its parental species (R. lessonae, genotype LL), except in the rare cases where hybrids are triploid. The sexual host LL, however, should avoid matings with the sexual parasite LR, because the resulting LR offspring will eliminate the L genome from their germ line. In this study we investigate how this conflict is solved. Since water frog hybrids come in both sexes, rather than as females only like in other sperm-dependent systems, we performed the tests with both females and males. One individual was given a choice between two individuals of the opposite sex, one an LL and the other an LR. In both species, females showed the predicted preference for LL males, whereas males did not discriminate between LL and LR females. On the individual level, we interpret the sex difference in choosiness by the lower costs from mating with the wrong species (LR) and the higher benefits from mating with large individuals in males than in females. In "normal" species, male preference for large (i.e. more fecund) females is advantageous, but in this system such a choice can result in mating with the larger LR females. With respect to the structure and dynamics of mixed populations, we discuss that the observed female preference is consistent with the higher mating success of LL males found in nature. Hence, mate female choice is a strong candidate for a mechanism promoting coexistence of the sperm-dependent hybrid and its sexual host. This confirms predictions from previous theoretical models.

For several decades, behavioral ecologists have studied the effects of the environment on the behavior of individuals; but only fairly recently they have started to ask the reverse question: how do the behavioral strategies of individuals affect the composition and dynamics of populations and communities? Although intuitively obvious, this feedback from individual to higher levels is difficult to demonstrate, except in systems with exceptionally fast and marked responses of the populations to the behavior of its members. Such a system exists in sperm-dependent species. In European water frogs, for instance, successful reproduction of a hybrid species (R. esculenta, genotype LR) requires mating with one of its parental species (R. lessonae, genotype LL), except in the rare cases where hybrids are triploid. The sexual host LL, however, should avoid matings with the sexual parasite LR, because the resulting LR offspring will eliminate the L genome from their germ line. In this study we investigate how this conflict is solved. Since water frog hybrids come in both sexes, rather than as females only like in other sperm-dependent systems, we performed the tests with both females and males. One individual was given a choice between two individuals of the opposite sex, one an LL and the other an LR. In both species, females showed the predicted preference for LL males, whereas males did not discriminate between LL and LR females. On the individual level, we interpret the sex difference in choosiness by the lower costs from mating with the wrong species (LR) and the higher benefits from mating with large individuals in males than in females. In "normal" species, male preference for large (i.e. more fecund) females is advantageous, but in this system such a choice can result in mating with the larger LR females. With respect to the structure and dynamics of mixed populations, we discuss that the observed female preference is consistent with the higher mating success of LL males found in nature. Hence, mate female choice is a strong candidate for a mechanism promoting coexistence of the sperm-dependent hybrid and its sexual host. This confirms predictions from previous theoretical models.

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46 citations in Web of Science®
45 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:2001
Deposited On:11 Feb 2008 12:17
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:15
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:1045-2249
Publisher DOI:10.1093/beheco/12.5.600
Related URLs:http://beheco.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/12/5/600?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=engeler&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-724

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