Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mating rivalry among furred and feathered: Variety is spice of life

Date:
May 31, 2011
Source:
Concordia University
Summary:
Birds do it. Bees do it. Fish, lobsters, frogs and lizards do it, too. But when it comes to securing a mate in the animal world, variety is literally the spice of life. A group of scientists has found flexibility in mating rituals is the key to reproductive success when males outnumber females.

Mating dance between Japanese medaka fish.
Credit: Image courtesy of Concordia University

Birds do it. Bees do it. Fish, lobsters, frogs and lizards do it, too. But when it comes to securing a mate in the animal world, variety is literally the spice of life.

A group of scientists from Simon Fraser University, Concordia University and Dalhousie University has found flexibility in mating rituals is the key to reproductive success when males outnumber females.

The research team pored through hundreds of investigations on mating trends in mammals, insects, fish, crustaceans, amphibians and reptiles.

"We found there's significant flexibility in mating behavior and customs across many species," says study co-author James W. A. Grant, professor in the Department of Biology at Concordia University.

During mating periods, as males compete for females, courtship behavior can morph from fighting to desperate searching when males are outnumbered.

"We tend to think that more males lead to more fighting, but after a point, fighting with every male around gets too tiring and risky because of the increased chances of injury. More importantly, having their potential mate stolen away by a more attentive suitor," says lead author Laura K. Weir, a Concordia graduate (BSC, ecology, 2001) and a postdoctoral fellow at Simon Fraser University.

In the battle to reproduce, the element of surprise was found to be a weapon of choice for males surrounded by dominant peers. "Males may forgo displays of conspicuous courtship and attempt to gain some reproductive success in other ways," says coauthor Jeffrey A. Hutchings, a biology professor at Dalhousie University.

Males also favour mate-guarding over traditional courtship rites during mate shortages -- bad news for females hoping to be wooed by multiple suitors.

"Males guard females until they are ready to mate in order to ensure some degree of reproductive success by preventing sperm competition from subsequent males," says Grant, noting males tailor sperm expenditure according to how many competitors they face.

Males are also more likely to stick around -- regardless of the level of interest from females -- when mates are scarce. "However, if females are abundant and encounters are frequent, males may abandon females who are not receptive to find one who is ready to mate," says Grant.

This work was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Fonds Quιbιcois de la Recherche sur la Nature et les Technologies and the Killam Trusts.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Laura K. Weir, James W. A. Grant, Jeffrey A. Hutchings. The Influence of Operational Sex Ratio on the Intensity of Competition for Mates. The American Naturalist, 2011; 177 (2): 167 DOI: 10.1086/657918

Cite This Page:

Concordia University. "Mating rivalry among furred and feathered: Variety is spice of life." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110525110455.htm>.
Concordia University. (2011, May 31). Mating rivalry among furred and feathered: Variety is spice of life. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110525110455.htm
Concordia University. "Mating rivalry among furred and feathered: Variety is spice of life." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110525110455.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Great British Farmland Boom

The Great British Farmland Boom

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 17, 2014) — Britain's troubled Co-operative Group is preparing to cash in on nearly 18,000 acres of farmland in one of the biggest UK land sales in decades. As Ivor Bennett reports, the market timing couldn't be better, with farmland prices soaring over 270 percent in the last 10 years. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction

Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) — With plenty of honking, flapping, and fluttering, more than three dozen Caribbean flamingos at Zoo Miami were rounded up today as the iconic exhibit was closed for renovations. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) — Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) — A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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