Male Courtship Preference During Seasonal Sympatry May Maintain Population Divergence
Ecology and Evolution
Animal migration can lead to a population distribution known as seasonal sympatry, in which closely‐related migrant and resident populations of the same species co‐occur in sympatry during part of the year, but are otherwise allopatric. During seasonal sympatry in early spring, residents may initiate reproduction before migrants depart, presenting an opportunity for gene flow. Differences in reproductive timing between migrant and resident populations may favor residents that exhibit preferences for potential mates of similar migratory behavior and reproductive timing, thus maintaining population divergence. We studied dark‐eyed juncos (Junco hyemalis), a songbird that exhibits seasonal sympatry. We conducted simulated courtship interactions in which we presented free‐living resident males with either a caged migrant or resident female and quantified courtship behavior prior to the departure of the migrants. We found that resident males preferred to court resident females: they sang more short‐range songs and exhibited more visual displays associated with courtship when presented with resident females. We conclude that males distinguish between migrant and resident females during seasonal sympatry when the risk of interacting with non‐reproductive, migrant females is high. Male mate choice in seasonal sympatry is likely adaptive for male reproductive success. As a secondary effect, male mating preference could act to maintain or promote divergence between populations that differ in migratory strategy.
Reichard, Dustin; Kimmitt, Abigail; Dietz, Samantha L.; and Ketterson, Ellen D., "Male Courtship Preference During Seasonal Sympatry May Maintain Population Divergence" (2018). Zoology Faculty Work. 96.
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