Date of this Version
Evolution 61:3 (March 2007), pp. 617-622; doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2007.00062.x
Discussions about the evolution of female mating preferences have often suggested that females should express multiple strong preferences when different male traits are correlated with different mating benefits, yet few studies have directly tested this hypothesis by comparing the strength of female preferences for male traits known to be correlated with different benefits. In the variable field cricket, Gryllus lineaticeps, females receive fecundity and fertility benefits from mating with males with higher chirp rates and life-span benefits from mating with males with longer chirp durations. Although females prefer higher chirp rates and longer chirp durations when the other trait is held constant, it is possible that they give priority to one of these song traits when both vary. In this study, we examined the relative importance of chirp rate and chirp duration in female mate choice using single-stimulus presentations of songs that varied in both chirp rate and chirp duration. Females expressed both directional and stabilizing preferences based on chirp rate, responding most strongly to a chirp rate approximately one standard deviation above the population mean. Females did not express preferences based on chirp duration, and did not express correlational preferences. These results suggest that females may give priority to the reproductive benefits provided by males that produce higher chirp rates.