Abstract / Description of output
The age of potential mates has been proposed to be an important target for mate choice by females. Alternative hypotheses predict preferences in either direction. Females might be expected to prefer older males because such males have demonstrated their capacity to survive. Alternatively, they might prefer younger males that have not accumulated deleterious mutations. Preferences in both directions have been observed in laboratory experiments, suggesting that this is an issue that needs to be understood within its ecological context. We measured individual behaviour and reproductive success in a natural population of the field cricket Gryllus campestris over 10 years. We found that in this annual insect, a male's age relative to his peers was poorly correlated with his life span. This suggests that there is limited potential for selection to favour female choice for older males because a strategy of choosing older males would not significantly increase a female's likelihood of mating with a long-lived male. Older males were more successful at pairing up with females at a burrow, but once paired they were less likely to mate with them. By genotyping the next generation of adults we confirmed that observations of both pairing up with a female and matings were associated with successful offspring production. However, there was no relationship between how old a male was at mating and how many adult offspring he had. This lack of evidence for any fitness benefits to females from mate choice in relation to male age was consistent with the observation that the age of males had opposite effects on their success in pairing up with females compared to their success in mating with them.
Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)
- female mate choice
- good males
- life span
- longevity senescence
- sperm ageing