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Data from: Predation cost of a sexual signal in the threespine stickleback

Citation

Johnson, Sini; Candolin, Ulrika (2017), Data from: Predation cost of a sexual signal in the threespine stickleback, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.1648b

Abstract

Much evidence exists for sexually selected traits reflecting various components of mate quality, but the factors that limit signal expression and ensure honest signaling are less well known. Predation risk has been proposed to be one factor that could constrain the elaboration of visually conspicuous signals and ensure honesty, but little evidence exists because of limitations of earlier used methods. We investigated using a combination of field observations and experimental work if a conspicuous sexual signal of the threespine stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus, the red nuptial coloration of the male, increases predation risk. We compared the proportion of colorful males in the gut of a predator in the wild, the perch Perca fluviatilis, to that in the population, and found proportionally more red-colored stickleback in the gut. This indicates that the predator selectively preys on colorful males under natural conditions. To differentiate between the effects of color and behavior on susceptibility to predation, we experimentally investigated the attack behavior of the predator towards breeding stickleback males differing in coloration. We found the predator to preferentially attack more colorful males, independent of their behavior. These results indicate that predation risk is a cost of the sexual signal that could limit expression and influence the honesty of the signal as an indicator of mate quality.

Usage Notes

Location

Baltic Sea