Tuesday, 14 May 2019


The last half century has seen a tremendous interest in the study of mate choice and the evolution of traits that make individuals attractive to others. In some species, however, individuals can differ substantially in who they find attractive, and this variation has typically been interpreted as “mate choice for compatibility.” Here, we quantify the benefits of such mate choice in a socially monogamous passerine bird, the zebra finch. We found that pairs that resulted from free mate choice achieved a 37% higher reproductive success than pairs that were forced to mate with a randomly assigned individual. Forced pairs suffered from increased failure to fertilize eggs and from increased mortality of hatched offspring. In females, we observed a reduced readiness to copulate with the assigned partner, while males that were forcepaired showed reduced parental care and increased activity in courting extrapair females.

- “Fitness Benefits of Mate Choice for Compatibility in a Socially Monogamous Species,” PLOS, by Malika Ihle, Bart Kempenaers, and Wolfgang Forstmeier, Published: September 14, 2015 AD, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio. 1002248; stored in the restricted files of Dr Alma Boyd.


Prescott:  You’re sure she has no idea.
Boyd:  I’m sure.
Prescott: It seems your approach has paid off, although I thought all that doom and gloom in the elevator took things a little too far.  Especially when she said “finch,” I thought you were going to fall over.
Boyd: Hush.  She’s smart, but she’s never had access to the Zebra Finch research.  I told you she was the right girl.  She was too busy worrying about how to keep two peoples happy to ever think for a minute two people could be the subject of our experiment.
Prescott: You’re sure she’s found someone?  And that they will all be safe there?
Boyd:  I told you, I’m sure.  Natural selection, Abe.  We’re returning to natural selection.