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Colder ambient temperatures constrain female mate preference for ornamental traits
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  • Zitan Song,
  • Pinjia Que,
  • William Jones,
  • Chenjing Huang,
  • Peng Ding,
  • Zhengwang Zhang,
  • Yang Liu
Zitan Song
Sun Yat-Sen University
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Pinjia Que
Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, Sichuan Key Laboratory of Conservation Biology for Endangered Wildlife
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William Jones
University of Debrecen
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Chenjing Huang
Beijing Normal University
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University of Bath
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Peng Ding
Xinjiang Agricultural University
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Zhengwang Zhang
Beijing Normal University
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Yang Liu
Sun Yat-Sen University

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Male ornamentation is usually costly and may show trades-offs with other life-history traits such as paternal care, which can subsequently affect female preference. Studies on female mate choice have mostly examined how mate-choice cues differ in their expression or ability to be detected in different environmental contexts. However, less focus has been placed on examining how external forces affect female preferences. The purpose of this study was to explore how parental investment strategy and mate choice were mediated by ambient temperature. Specifically, we examined how male ornamentation characteristics and subsequent female incubation investment were impacted by ambient temperature in four plover populations that were breeding across an environmental gradient. We discovered that larger males had more ornamented plumage in warmer conditions, and they were favored by larger females who invested an elevated time into incubation. In contrast, in cooler conditions, males' body size and the color of their ornaments were inversely associated, and females showed weak preference for males with more colorful ornaments. These results imply that female preference for male ornament can change in response to ambient temperature and demonstrate that female preference for male ornamentation may be limited in harsher conditions with higher parental care expenses.
03 Sep 2023Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
06 Sep 2023Assigned to Editor
06 Sep 2023Submission Checks Completed
08 Nov 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned