Data from: A novel method for estimating the strength of positive mating preference by similarity in the wild
Fernández-Meirama, Mónica et al. (2018), Data from: A novel method for estimating the strength of positive mating preference by similarity in the wild, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.5jd7j
Mating preference can be a driver of sexual selection and assortative mating and is, therefore, a key element in evolutionary dynamics. Positive mating preference by similarity is the tendency for the choosy individual to select a mate which possesses a similar variant of a trait. Such preference can be modelled using Gaussian-like mathematical functions that describe the strength of preference, but such functions cannot be applied to empirical data collected from the field. As a result, traditionally, mating preference is indirectly estimated by the degree of assortative mating (using Pearson's correlation coefficient, r) in wild captured mating pairs. Unfortunately, r and similar coefficients are often biased due to the fact that different variants of a given trait are nonrandomly distributed in the wild, and pooling of mating pairs from such heterogeneous samples may lead to “false–positive” results, termed “the scale-of-choice effect” (SCE). Here we provide two new estimators of mating preference (Crough and Cscaled) derived from Gaussian-like functions which can be applied to empirical data. Computer simulations demonstrated that r coefficient showed robust estimations properties of mating preference but it was severely affected by SCE, Crough showed reasonable estimation properties and it was little affected by SCE, while Cscaled showed the best properties at infinite sample sizes and it was not affected by SCE but failed at biological sample sizes. We recommend using Crough combined with the r coefficient to infer mating preference in future empirical studies.