Sequential female assessment drives complex sexual selection on bower shape in a cichlid fish

Young, Kyle A.; Genner, Martin J.; Häsler, Marcel P.; Joyce, Domino A. (2010). Sequential female assessment drives complex sexual selection on bower shape in a cichlid fish. Evolution, 64(8), pp. 2246-2253. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2010.00984.x

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In many animals, sexual selection on male traits results from female mate choice decisions made during a sequence of courtship behaviors. We use a bower-building cichlid fish, Nyassachromis cf. microcephalus, to show how applying standard selection analysis to data on sequential female assessment provides new insights into sexual selection by mate choice. We first show that the cumulative selection differentials confirm previous results suggesting female choice favors males holding large volcano-shaped sand bowers. The sequential assessment analysis reveals these cumulative differentials are the result of selection acting on different bower dimensions during the courtship sequence; females choose to follow males courting from tall bowers, but choose to engage in premating circling with males holding bowers with large diameter platforms. The approach we present extends standard selection analysis by partitioning the variances of increasingly accurate estimates of male reproductive fitness and is applicable to systems in which sequential female assessment drives sexual selection on male traits.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Aquatic Ecology

UniBE Contributor:

Häsler, Marcel










Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:17

Last Modified:

17 Mar 2015 19:22

Publisher DOI:


Web of Science ID:


URI: (FactScience: 210002)

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