Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Biological fitness trumps other traits in mating game

Date:
June 19, 2013
Source:
National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS)
Summary:
When a new species emerges following adaptive changes to its local environment, the process of choosing a mate can help protect the new species' genetic identity and increase the likelihood of its survival. But of the many observable traits in a potential mate, which particular traits does a female tend to prefer?

Diverging color patterns on the wings of Heliconius butterflies are an example of fitness-related traits that females have evolved to prefer.
Credit: Mathieu Joron

When a new species emerges following adaptive changes to its local environment, the process of choosing a mate can help protect the new species' genetic identity and increase the likelihood of its survival. But of the many observable traits in a potential mate, which particular traits does a female tend to prefer?

A new study from the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis finds that a female's mating decisions are largely based on traits that reflect fitness or those that help males perform well under the local ecological conditions.

Males' bright colors, flashy ornaments, and elaborate songs are examples of fitness-related traits that females appear to have evolved to prefer, according to the study, which appears in the journal Ecology Letters.

An example of these fitness-related traits can be found in the tropical Heliconius butterfly, where diverging color patterns on the butterflies' wings influence mate choice and hence divergence of populations. Another example are Darwin's finches, whose beaks evolved over millions of years with changes in birdsong, an important mating signal, and thus contributed to the rise of new and distinct finch species.

The study settles a long debate in evolutionary biology about the surprising commonality of traits that play a crucial role in both survival and mate choice. It was previously thought that such traits were uncommon and were thus named "magic traits." However, in unraveling the trick behind the so-called magic traits, the study predicts that these magic traits are far more common in nature than expected, and in fact, predicts that female mating preferences may reflect forces of natural selection that were in place during the origin of the species.

"Even if the link between survival and mate choice is not there to start with, it will probably evolve," said lead author Xavier Thibert-Plante.

Understanding the biological basis of mating behavior is important because it can shed light on how species boundaries are formed and maintained.

"Mating preference is crucial for the evolution of new species because it reduces, and may in some cases eliminate hybridization, which can produce offspring of mixed ancestry, slowing down or reversing adaptation and differentiation among emerging species," Thibert-Plante explained.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Xavier Thibert-Plante, Sergey Gavrilets. Evolution of mate choice and the so-called magic traits in ecological speciation. Ecology Letters, 2013; DOI: 10.1111/ele.12131

Cite This Page:

National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS). "Biological fitness trumps other traits in mating game." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130619164714.htm>.
National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS). (2013, June 19). Biological fitness trumps other traits in mating game. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130619164714.htm
National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS). "Biological fitness trumps other traits in mating game." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130619164714.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Working Mother DIY: Pumpkin Pom-Pom

Working Mother DIY: Pumpkin Pom-Pom

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) How to make a pumpkin pom-pom. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
San Diego Zoo's White Rhinos Provide Hope for the Critically Endangered Species

San Diego Zoo's White Rhinos Provide Hope for the Critically Endangered Species

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) The pair of rare white northern rhinos bring hope for their species as only six remain in the world. Elly Park reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Bear Cub Strolls Through Oregon Drug Store

Raw: Bear Cub Strolls Through Oregon Drug Store

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) Shoppers at an Oregon drug store were surprised by a bear cub scurrying down the aisles this past weekend. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Family Pleads for Pet Pig to Stay at Home

Family Pleads for Pet Pig to Stay at Home

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) The Johnson family lost their battle with the Chesterfield County, Virginia Planning Commission to allow Tucker, their pet pig, to stay in their home, but refuse to let the board keep Tucker away. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
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