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Convenience polyandry or convenience polygyny? Costly sex under female control in a promiscuous primate


Huchard, E; Canale, C I; Le Gros, C; Perret, M; Henry, P-Y; Kappeler, P M (2012). Convenience polyandry or convenience polygyny? Costly sex under female control in a promiscuous primate. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 279(1732):1371-1379.

Abstract

Classic sex roles depict females as choosy, but polyandry is widespread. Empirical attempts to understand the evolution of polyandry have often focused on its adaptive value to females, whereas ‘convenience polyandry’ might simply decrease the costs of sexual harassment. We tested whether constraint-free female strategies favour promiscuity over mating selectivity through an original experimental design. We investigated variation in mating behaviour in response to a reversible alteration of sexual dimorphism in body mass in the grey mouse lemur, a small primate where female brief sexual receptivity allows quantifying polyandry. We manipulated body condition in captive females, predicting that convenience polyandry would increase when females are weaker than males, thus less likely to resist their solicitations. Our results rather support the alternative hypothesis of ‘adaptive polyandry’: females in better condition are more polyandrous. Furthermore, we reveal that multiple mating incurs significant energetic costs, which are strikingly symmetrical between the sexes. Our study shows that mouse lemur females exert tight control over mating and actively seek multiple mates. The benefits of remating are nevertheless not offset by its costs in low-condition females, suggesting that polyandry is a flexible strategy yielding moderate fitness benefits in this small mammal.

Abstract

Classic sex roles depict females as choosy, but polyandry is widespread. Empirical attempts to understand the evolution of polyandry have often focused on its adaptive value to females, whereas ‘convenience polyandry’ might simply decrease the costs of sexual harassment. We tested whether constraint-free female strategies favour promiscuity over mating selectivity through an original experimental design. We investigated variation in mating behaviour in response to a reversible alteration of sexual dimorphism in body mass in the grey mouse lemur, a small primate where female brief sexual receptivity allows quantifying polyandry. We manipulated body condition in captive females, predicting that convenience polyandry would increase when females are weaker than males, thus less likely to resist their solicitations. Our results rather support the alternative hypothesis of ‘adaptive polyandry’: females in better condition are more polyandrous. Furthermore, we reveal that multiple mating incurs significant energetic costs, which are strikingly symmetrical between the sexes. Our study shows that mouse lemur females exert tight control over mating and actively seek multiple mates. The benefits of remating are nevertheless not offset by its costs in low-condition females, suggesting that polyandry is a flexible strategy yielding moderate fitness benefits in this small mammal.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
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:2012
Deposited On:27 Feb 2014 14:21
Last Modified:17 Feb 2018 01:49
Publisher:Royal Society Publishing
ISSN:0962-8452
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2011.1326

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