Postnatal nutrition influences male attractiveness and promotes plasticity in male mating preferences

Noguera, J. C., Metcalfe, N. B. and Monaghan, P. (2017) Postnatal nutrition influences male attractiveness and promotes plasticity in male mating preferences. Naturwissenschaften, 104(11-12), 102. (doi: 10.1007/s00114-017-1524-y) (PMID:29138966)

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Poor early-life nutrition could reduce adult reproductive success by negatively affecting traits linked to sexual attractiveness such as song complexity. If so, this might favor strategic mate choice, allowing males with less complex songs to tailor their mating tactics to maximize the reproductive benefits. However, this possibility has been ignored in theoretical and empirical studies. By manipulating the micronutrient content of the diet (e.g., low or high) during the postnatal period of male zebra finches, we show for the first time (1) that males reared on a poor (low) micronutrient diet had less complex songs as adults; (2) that these males, in contrast to the high micronutrient diet group, were more selective in their mating strategies, discriminating against those females most likely to reduce their clutch size when paired with males having less complex songs; and (3) that by following different mating strategies, males reared on the contrasting diets obtained similar reproductive benefits. These results suggest that early-life dietary conditions can induce multiple and long-lasting effects on male and female reproductive traits. Moreover, the results seem to reflect a previously unreported case of adaptive plasticity in mate choice in response to a nutritionally mediated reduction in sexual attractiveness.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:JCN was supported by AXA Research fellowship (PDOC-2013-W1) and later on by a Juan de la Cierva Fellowship (IJCI-2014-20246), NBM by ERC Advanced Grant (322784), and PM by ERC Advanced Grant (268926).
Keywords:Differential allocation, fertility, mate choice, song, Taeniopygia guttata.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Monaghan, Professor Pat and Metcalfe, Professor Neil
Authors: Noguera, J. C., Metcalfe, N. B., and Monaghan, P.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Naturwissenschaften
ISSN (Online):1432-1904
Published Online:14 November 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature
First Published:First published in Naturwissenschaften 104(11-12): 102
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
545091ECOTELO - The ecological significance of telomere dynamics:environments, individuals and inheritancePatricia MonaghanEuropean Research Council (ERC)20100317/FP7-268926RI BIODIVERSITY ANIMAL HEALTH & COMPMED