Expression of pre- and postcopulatory traits under different dietary conditions in guppies

A. Devigili, Jennifer Kelley, A. Pilastro, Jon Evans

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    50 Citations (Scopus)
    14 Downloads (Pure)


    Sexual selection can operate both before and after mating. For males, selection will favor a suite of traits involved in mate acquisition (precopulatory) and in the competition among ejaculates to fertilize eggs (postcopulatory). Sperm competition theory predicts a trade-off between investment in pre-and postcopulatory traits, thus generating negative correlations between traits that function during both episodes of selection. However, such trade-offs can be difficult to detect because they are typically sensitive to the pool of resources available for allocation to competing functions. Although theory predicts that trade-offs will be more apparent when resources are limiting, there have been few attempts to test this prediction. In our study, we used the freshwater fish, Poecilia reticulata, to examine how both pre-and postcopulatory sexually selected traits simultaneously respond to manipulations of diet quantity by comparing behavioral, ornamental, and ejaculate traits between males assigned at random to either a ad libitum or a restricted food diet. We also explore how the relationships between traits that function during pre-and postcopulatory episodes of selection are affected by these treatments. Our results reveal that diet manipulations influenced the expression of both precopulatory (sexual behavior and ornamentation) and postcopulatory sexually selected traits (sperm viability), reinforcing the importance of resource acquisition in sexual selection. However, our data do not support the hypothesis that males trade off their allocation toward these pre-and postcopulatory sexually selected traits. Instead, changes in the expression of pre-and postcopulatory sexually selected traits appear to occur independently. © 2012 The Author.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)740-749
    JournalBehavioral Ecology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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