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Ryan MJ, KA Akre, AT Baugh, X Bernal, A Lea, C Leslie, MB Still, D Wylie, AS Rand
The American Naturalist, 194:125-134; DOI: 10.1086/704103
Publication year: 2019

Abstract  Sexual selection driven by mate choice has generated some of the most astounding diversity in nature, suggesting population-level preferences should be strong and consistent over many generations. On the other hand, mating preferences are among the least repeatable components of an individual animal’s phenotype, suggesting low consistency across an animal’s lifetime. Despite decades of intensive study of sexual selection there is almost no information about the strength and consistency of preferences across many years. In this study we present the results of over 5000 mate choice tests with a species of wild frog conducted over 19 consecutive years. Results show that preferences are positive and strong and vary little across years. This consistency is despite the fact that there are substantial differences among females in their strength of preference. We also suggest mate preferences that are primarily the result of sensory exploitation might be more stable in populations compared to preferences that are primarily involved in assessing male quality.