Details

Department: 
Running period: 
2013 to 2017

Female choice for top quality males is expected to result in the evolution of exaggerated male secondary sexual characters. However, a strong directional preference for the ‘best’ males and their specific heritable traits would theoretically cause a fast decline in genetic variation among males. In natural populations under sexual selection however, diversity in ornaments and genes is still present. How, then, is genetic variation within populations maintained in the presence of sexual selection? 

This project proposes that individuals may vary in their mate preference, preferring mates with strengths that complement their own phenotype. Both male and female great tits display mutual ornaments, which are important in dominance interactions, advertisements of parental investment and sexual selection. We will perform mate choice experiments with wild great tits to test for their mate preferences.  Subsequently, in spring we will study how reproductive investment is influenced by the parents own phenotype, their previously tested mate preferences and the partner they obtained.