No evidence of current sexual selection on sexually dimorphic traits in a bird with high variance in mating success.

TitleNo evidence of current sexual selection on sexually dimorphic traits in a bird with high variance in mating success.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
JournalThe American naturalist
Volume167
Issue6
Paginatione171-89
ISSN0003-0147
Abstract

Sexual dimorphism, particularly in ornamental traits, is likely to have arisen by sexual selection. Most empirical and theoretical studies of sexual dimorphism assume that ongoing sexual selection also maintains the dimorphism. Over four seasons, I measured the sexual selection acting on three sexually dimorphic attributes (epaulet size, body size, and the blackness of the body plumage) of male red-winged blackbirds and found no consistent directional or stabilizing selection on any of them. Correlational selection was also negligible. I used path analysis to explore potential relationships in more detail but found no direct or indirect effects of male traits on either within- or extrapair success. Males who were resident on the marsh for more years had higher within-pair success, primarily because they spent more of the season on their territory. Experimental manipulations of epaulet size and color and the extent of nonblack feathers in the black body plumage had no detectable effect on the number of within-pair mates, paternity, or the number of extrapair offspring sired in nearby territories. These results combine with data from other studies of red-winged blackbirds to suggest that, despite high variation in male mating success and hence a strong opportunity for sexual selection, several morphological attributes that differ between the sexes and vary among males are not under current sexual selection. The possible explanations for why add complexity to our understanding of how sexual selection operates.

URLhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1086/503385
DOI10.1086/503385
Short TitleAm Nat
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