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Data from: Reproductive foragers: spider males choose mates by selecting among available competitive environments

Citation

Jordan, Lyndon Alexander; Kokko, Hanna; Kasumovic, Michael (2013), Data from: Reproductive foragers: spider males choose mates by selecting among available competitive environments, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.2qp1v

Abstract

Mate choice frequently operates differently for males and females as a consequence of male competition for mates. Competitive interactions can alter the fitness payoffs of choice and the realisation of preferences under natural conditions, yet the majority of male choice studies still use binary trials that ignore social factors. Here we test the importance of contest dynamics in male choice with a large scale experiment, using a framework where females are considered analogous to foraging patches that are subject to competition. We track the mate choices and interactions of 640 spiders (Nephila plumipes) before and after manipulation of competition within enclosures, modelling the expected fitness payoffs of each male's actual choices and comparing these with all alternative choices available. We find that many males choose new females once social conditions change, and achieve higher fitness than predicted under random movement. Males increase their fitness not by moving to larger females but by choosing favourable competitive environments that balance competition and female fecundity. Further, we show for the first time that prior residence effects have a strong influence in male reproductive contests and can shape male mate choice. These results highlight the importance of situating male choice studies in the relevant social context, as intrasexual interactions can have profound effects on the realisation and payoffs of male mate choice strategies.

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