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Male mate choice in mosquitofish: personality outweighs body size
Frontiers in Zoology  (IF3.172),  Pub Date : 2022-01-21, DOI: 10.1186/s12983-022-00450-3
Li, Chunlin, Zhang, Xinyu, Cui, Peng, Zhang, Feng, Zhang, Baowei

Despite its important implications in behavioural and evolutionary ecology, male mate choice has been poorly studied, and the relative contribution of personality and morphological traits remains largely unknown. We used standard two-choice mating trials to explore whether two personality traits (i.e., shyness and activity) and/or body size of both sexes affect mate choice in male mosquitofish Gambusia affinis. In the first set of trials involving 40 males, we tested whether males would prefer larger females and whether the preference would be affected by males’ body length and personality traits, and females’ activity level. In the second set of trials (using another 40 males), we tested whether males would prefer more active females and whether the preference would be affected by males’ body length and personality traits. Both shyness and activity in males were significantly repeatable and constituted a behavioural syndrome. No overall directional preference for large (or small) females with the same activity levels was detected because larger males preferred larger females and smaller males chose smaller females. Males’ strength of preference for larger females was also positively correlated with the activity level of larger females but negatively with the activity level of smaller females. Males spent more time associating with active females regardless of their body lengths, indicating males’ selection was more influenced by female activity level than body size. Males’ preference for inactive females was enhanced when females became active. There was no convincing evidence for the effect of males’ personality traits or body length on their preferences for females’ activity level. Our study supports the importance of body size in male mate choice but highlights that personality traits may outweigh body size preferences when males choose mating partners.