Male mate choice, but not female ornamentation, is impaired by turbidity in the straight-nosed pipefish
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Sexual ornaments are used both in intra- and intersexual contexts, and these signals have evolved to function in the particular habitat the animal is adapted to. Habitat characteristics may change rapidly due to anthropogenic effects, sometimes at rates too fast for many organisms to adaptively respond. In aquatic ecosystems, eutrophication and overfishing is currently changing chemical as well as visual properties of the environment. Algae blooms increase water turbidity, and the reduction of water transparency has the potential to alter visual ornaments and their perception. Here we found that male mate choice, but not the development of female sexual ornaments, was affected by turbidity in the straight-nosed pipefish, Nerophis ophidion. In a laboratory mate choice experiment, males preferred females with larger ornaments in clear water, while mate choice became random under turbid conditions. Female ornamentation, courtship and fecundity, on the other hand, seemed unaffected by turbidity, as no effect was found even though we investigated long-term turbidity effects. Thus, we show that water turbidity had no affect on signal expression but did hamper ornament perception and consequently altered mate choice.
Eutrophication, Intersexual selection, Syngnathidae, Status signals
Research subject Biology with specialization in Animal Ecology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-195089OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-195089DiVA: diva2:608497