Heritability of and early-environmental effects on variation in mating preferences

Schielzeth H, Bolund E, Forstmeier W (2009)
Evolution 64(4): 998-1006.

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Abstract
Many species show substantial between-individual variation in mating preferences, but studying the causes of such variation remains a challenge. For example, the relative importance of heritable variation versus shared early environment effects (like sexual imprinting) on mating preferences has never been quantified in a population of animals. Here, we estimate the heritability of and early rearing effects on mate choice decisions in zebra finches based on the similarity of choices between pairs of genetic sisters raised apart and pairs of unrelated foster sisters. We found a low and nonsignificant heritability of preferences and no significant shared early rearing effects. A literature review shows that a low heritability of preferences is rather typical, whereas empirical tests for the relevance of sexual imprinting within populations are currently limited to very few studies. Although effects on preference functions (i.e., which male to prefer) were weak, we found strong individual consistency in choice behavior and part of this variation was heritable. It seems likely that variation in choice behavior (choosiness, responsiveness, sampling behavior) would produce patterns of nonrandom mating and this might be the more important source of between-individual differences in mating patterns.
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Schielzeth H, Bolund E, Forstmeier W. Heritability of and early-environmental effects on variation in mating preferences. Evolution. 2009;64(4):998-1006.
Schielzeth, H., Bolund, E., & Forstmeier, W. (2009). Heritability of and early-environmental effects on variation in mating preferences. Evolution, 64(4), 998-1006.
Schielzeth, H., Bolund, E., and Forstmeier, W. (2009). Heritability of and early-environmental effects on variation in mating preferences. Evolution 64, 998-1006.
Schielzeth, H., Bolund, E., & Forstmeier, W., 2009. Heritability of and early-environmental effects on variation in mating preferences. Evolution, 64(4), p 998-1006.
H. Schielzeth, E. Bolund, and W. Forstmeier, “Heritability of and early-environmental effects on variation in mating preferences”, Evolution, vol. 64, 2009, pp. 998-1006.
Schielzeth, H., Bolund, E., Forstmeier, W.: Heritability of and early-environmental effects on variation in mating preferences. Evolution. 64, 998-1006 (2009).
Schielzeth, Holger, Bolund, Elisabeth, and Forstmeier, Wolfgang. “Heritability of and early-environmental effects on variation in mating preferences”. Evolution 64.4 (2009): 998-1006.
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