Data from: Female discrimination thresholds frequently exceed local male display variation: implications for mate choice dynamics and sexual selection
Höbel, Gerlinde (2015), Data from: Female discrimination thresholds frequently exceed local male display variation: implications for mate choice dynamics and sexual selection, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.7b253
Among the factors that can influence female mate choice decisions is the degree to which females differentiate among similar displays: as differences decrease, females are expected to eventually stop discriminating. This discrimination threshold, in conjunction with the magnitude of male trait variation females regularly encounter while making mate choice decisions, may have important consequences for sexual selection. If local display variation is above the discrimination threshold, female preferences should translate into higher mating success for the more attractive male. But if display variation is frequently below the threshold, the resulting increased pattern of random mating may obscure the existence of female mate choice. I investigated the interplay between female discrimination and male display variation in green treefrogs (Hyla cinerea), and found that call trait differences between nearest neighbour males were frequently smaller than what females are expected to discriminate. This finding has two important consequences for our understanding of sexual selection in the wild: First, low display variation should weaken the strength of selection on male display traits, but the direction of selection should mirror the one predicted from females choice trials. Second, caution is needed when interpreting data on realized mating success in the wild: a pattern of random mating with respect to male display traits does not always mean that female preferences are weak or that conditions are too challenging for females to express their preferences. Rather, insufficient display variation can generate the same pattern.