Older males signal more reliably

Proceedings. Biological Sciences
S R ProulxL Rowe


The hypothesis that females prefer older males because they have higher mean fitness than younger males has been the centre of recent controversy. These discussions have focused on the success of a female who prefers males of a particular age class when age cues, but not quality cues, are available. Thus, if the distribution of male quality changes with age, such that older males have on average genotypes with higher fitness than younger males, then a female who mates with older males has fitter offspring, which allows the female preference to spread through a genetic correlation. We develop a general model for male display in a species with multiple reproductive bouts that allows us to identify the conditions that promote reliable signalling within an age class. Because males have opportunities for future reproduction, they will reduce their levels of advertising compared with a semelparous species. In addition, because higher-quality males have more future reproduction, they will reduce their advertising more than low-quality males. Thus, the conditions for reliable signalling in a semelparous organism are generally not sufficient to produce reliable signalling in species with multiple reproductive bouts. This result is due t...Continue Reading


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