Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mate Selection: Honesty In Advertising Pays Off

Date:
June 19, 2009
Source:
Yale University
Summary:
Throughout the animal kingdom brilliant colors or elaborate behavioral displays serve as "advertisements" for attracting mates. But, what do the ads promise, and is there truth in advertising? Researchers theorize that when males must provide care for the survival of their offspring, the males' signals will consistently be honest -- and they may devote more of their energy to caring for their offspring than to being attractive.

The male peacock's display attracts mates.
Credit: iStockphoto/Jennifer Daley

Throughout the animal kingdom brilliant colors or elaborate behavioral displays serve as "advertisements" for attracting mates. But, what do the ads promise, and is there truth in advertizing? Researchers at Yale theorize that when males must provide care for the survival of their offspring, the males' signals will consistently be honest — and they may devote more of their energy to caring for their offspring than to being attractive.

Related Articles


The idea that males showcase their best qualities to attract females for mating isn't a new one, nor is the idea that they might be deceptive in what they are promoting. Instead, the new findings better predict the requirement for honesty in advertising as a function of the male's suitability for parenting, according to Natasha Kelly, a graduate student in ecology and evolutionary biology at Yale and lead author of the study.

The peacock's ornate fanned tail — or the primping and posturing of a guy in a bar — are "advertisements" or mating displays that take substantial energy to maintain. When a male's energy is heavily focused on keeping up his appearance, he may have little energy to devote to caring for offspring. But that may be okay, say the researchers — in species where he does not really need to tend to the kids.

Previous research suggested that, under certain circumstances, males could be dishonest about their parenting skills and still have high reproductive success. This new model, now appearing in the online version of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, examines the reliability of males' mating signals when they must care for offspring — an aspect that was missing in earlier studies.

There are many species in which males could, but do not have to, provide parental care — because females will pick up the slack. The Yale researchers focused on those species, like stickleback fish, where females cannot pick up the slack and males who do not provide care risk the survival of their offspring.

"This new work shows that when males can not escape the cost of failing to provide care, their advertisements will tend to tend to reliably indicate how much care they will provide," said senior author Suzanne Alonzo, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Yale.

"The qualifier in this case is where males are obligated to provide care," said Kelly. "In that case, the quiet guy in the corner might be giving the more reliable advertisement for fatherhood."

The National Science Foundation and Yale University funded this research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Yale University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kelly et al. Will male advertisement be a reliable indicator of paternal care, if offspring survival depends on male care? Proceedings of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences, 2009; DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2009.0599

Cite This Page:

Yale University. "Mate Selection: Honesty In Advertising Pays Off." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090618101510.htm>.
Yale University. (2009, June 19). Mate Selection: Honesty In Advertising Pays Off. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090618101510.htm
Yale University. "Mate Selection: Honesty In Advertising Pays Off." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090618101510.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

Newsy (Oct. 30, 2014) A frog noticed by a conservationist on New York's Staten Island has been confirmed as a new species after extensive study and genetic testing. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Surfer Accidentally Stands on Shark, Gets Bitten

Surfer Accidentally Stands on Shark, Gets Bitten

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) A 20-year-old competition surfer said on Thursday he accidentally stepped on a shark's head before it bit him off the Australian east coast. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Inflicts Heavy Toll on Guinean Potato Trade

Ebola Inflicts Heavy Toll on Guinean Potato Trade

AFP (Oct. 30, 2014) The Ebola epidemic has seen Senegal and Guinea Bissau close its borders with Guinea and the economic consequences have started to be felt, especially in Fouta Djallon, where the renowned potato industry has been hit hard. Duration: 02:01 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Genetically Altered Glowing Flower on Display in Tokyo

Genetically Altered Glowing Flower on Display in Tokyo

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 30, 2014) Just in time for Halloween, a glowing flower goes on display in Tokyo. Instead of sorcery and magic, its creators used science to genetically modify the flower, adding a naturally fluorescent plankton protein to its genetic mix. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins