Male but not female pipefish copy mate choice

Maria Sandvik Widemo
March 2006
Behavioral Ecology;Mar2006, Vol. 17 Issue 2, p255
Academic Journal
If mate choice is costly, an individual may reduce the costs of choice by observing and copying the mate choice of others. Although copying has received much attention during the past 10 years, evidence of copying is not very strong, partly because of problems with distinguishing copying from other mechanisms creating similar mating patterns. I conducted an aquarium experiment using the deep-snouted pipefish Syngnathus typhle, a species with reversed sex roles and mutual mate choice. I tested whether copying occurred both during male and female mate choice. The results showed that males, but not females, displayed more toward an individual, which they perceived as popular among others, and this was interpreted as male mate choice copying. While being the first evidence of copying in a sex-role–reversed species, the sex difference in behavior mirrors the sex-role pattern and begs the question whether we should predict copying only in females in other species with mutual choice but conventional sex roles.


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