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Data from: A meta-analysis of factors influencing the strength of mate choice copying in animals

Cite this dataset

Dougherty, Liam; Davies, Alice; Lewis, Zenobia (2020). Data from: A meta-analysis of factors influencing the strength of mate choice copying in animals [Dataset]. Dryad.


Davies et al., (2020) All data and R code

Mate-choice copying is a form of social learning in which an individual’s choice of mate is influenced by the apparent choices of other individuals of the same sex, and has been observed in more than 20 species across a broad taxonomic range. Though fitness benefits of copying have proven difficult to measure, theory suggests that copying should not be beneficial for all species or contexts. However, the factors influencing the evolution and expression of copying have proven difficult to resolve. We systematically searched the literature for studies of mate-choice copying in non-human animals, and then performed a phylogenetically-controlled meta-analysis to explore which factors influence the expression of copying across species. Across 58 published studies in 23 species, we find strong evidence that animals copy the mate choice of others. The strength of copying was significantly influenced by taxonomic group, however sample size limitations mean it is difficult to draw firm conclusions regarding copying in mammals and arthropods. The strength of copying was also influenced by experimental design: copying was stronger when choosers were tested before and after witnessing a conspecific’s mate choice, compared to when choosers with social information were compared to choosers without. Importantly, we did not detect any difference in the strength of copying between males and females, or in relation to the rate of multiple mating. Our search also highlights that more empirical work is needed to investigate copying in a broader range of species, especially those with differing mating systems and levels of reproductive investment.

Usage notes

All data collected for the meta-analysis of mate-choice copying by Davies et al., (2020). Also includes all R code used for the statistical analysis and production of figures.


Leverhulme Trust, Award: ECF-2018-427