Female preference for male color is necessary and sufficient for assortative mating in 2 cichlid sister species

Oliver M. Selz*, Michele E. R. Pierotti, Martine E. Maan, Corinne Schmid, Ole Seehausen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A critical step for speciation in the face of gene flow is the origination of reproductive isolation. The evolution of assortative mating greatly facilitates this process. Assortative mating can be mediated by one or multiple cues across an array of sensory modalities. We here explore possible cues that may underlie female mate choice in a sympatric species pair of cichlid fish from Lake Victoria, Pundamilia pundamilia and Pundamilia nyererei. Previous studies identified species-specific female preferences for male coloration, but effects of other cues could not be ruled out. Therefore, we assessed female choice in a series of experiments in which we manipulated visual (color) and chemical cues. We show that the visibility of differences in nuptial hue (i.e., either blue or red) between males of the 2 species is necessary and sufficient for assortative mating by female mate choice. Such assortment mediated by a single cue may evolve relatively quickly, but could make reproductive isolation vulnerable to environmental changes. These findings confirm the important role of female mate choice for male nuptial hue in promoting the explosive speciation of African haplochromine cichlids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to) 612–626
Number of pages15
JournalBehavioral Ecology
Volume25
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • assortative mating
  • cichlid
  • hue
  • mate choice
  • teleost fish
  • LAKE VICTORIA CICHLIDS
  • TILAPIA OREOCHROMIS-MOSSAMBICUS
  • DISRUPTIVE SEXUAL SELECTION
  • MALE-MALE COMPETITION
  • MALE NUPTIAL COLOR
  • MATE CHOICE
  • SYMPATRIC SPECIATION
  • OLFACTORY CUES
  • REPRODUCTIVE ISOLATION
  • ECOLOGICAL SPECIATION

Cite this