An intimidating ornament in a female pipefish
2009 (English)In: Behavioral Ecology, ISSN 1045-2249, E-ISSN 1465-7279, Vol. 20, no 1, 54-59 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
A sexually selected signal may serve a dual function being both attractive to mates and deterring rivals. Presently, there are few unambiguous demonstrations of an ornament functioning in both a mate choice and mate competition context and none regarding female ornaments. We have shown earlier that a temporary ornament, a striped pattern, in a sex-role reversed female pipefish, Syngnathus typhle, attracts males. Here we show that this ornament also intimidates rival females: in one experiment a male could interact with either 1 or 2 females. Latency until copulation was longer when 2, rather than 1, females were present. Moreover, when 2 females were present, competition lasted longer and time until mating took place increased when females displayed their ornaments more equally. In another experiment, a focal female could see 1 stimulus female and 1 stimulus male, the latter 2 being unaware of each other. The ornament of the stimulus female was manipulated, either strengthened by being painted black or left unaltered by being sham-painted. As a result, focal females experiencing black-painted stimulus females decreased courtship as well as competitive activities compared with focal females seeing sham-painted females. Moreover, focal females seeing black-painted females displayed less of their own ornament compared with controls. This decrease was due to a decrease in display toward males rather than to stimulus females. Thus, this female ornament indeed has a dual function, attracting mates and deterring rivals. In addition, the social costs invoked by this intimidating effect on rivals may help to maintain signal honesty.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 20, no 1, 54-59 p.
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-126425DOI: 10.1093/beheco/arn114ISI: 000262152300007OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-126425DiVA: diva2:324090