Papers in the Biological Sciences


Date of this Version



Proceedings of the Royal Society B 279:1739 (July 22, 2012), pp. 2899–2906; doi: 10.1098/rspb.2012.0275


Copyright © 2012 The Royal Society. Used by permission.


Tradeoffs occur between a variety of traits in a diversity of organisms, and these tradeoffs can have major effects on ecological and evolutionary processes. Far less is known, however, about tradeoffs between male traits that affect mate attraction than about tradeoffs between other types of traits. Previous results indicate that females of the variable field cricket, Gryllus lineaticeps, prefer male songs with higher chirp rates and longer chirp durations. In the current study, we tested the hypothesis that a tradeoff between these traits affects the evolution of male song. The two traits were negatively correlated among full-sibling families, consistent with a genetically based tradeoff, and the tradeoff was stronger when nutrients were limiting. In addition, for males from 12 populations reared in a common environment, the traits were negatively correlated within populations, the strength of the tradeoff was largely invariant across populations, and the within-population tradeoff predicted how the traits have evolved among populations. A widespread tradeoff thus affects male trait evolution. Finally, for males from four populations assayed in the field, the traits were negatively correlated within and among populations. The tradeoff is thus robust to the presence of environmental factors that might mask its effects. Together, our results indicate there is a fundamental tradeoff between male traits that: (i) limits the ability of males to produce multiple attractive traits; (ii) limits how male traits evolve; and (iii) might favor plasticity in female mating preferences.

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