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Title

Heterozygosity-based assortative mating in blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus): implications for the evolution of mate choice

AuthorsGarcía-Navas, Vicente CSIC ORCID; Ortego, Joaquín CSIC ORCID; Sanz, Juan José CSIC ORCID
KeywordsAssortative mating
Blue tit
genetic diversity
heterozygosity
relatedness
Issue Date2009
PublisherRoyal Society (Great Britain)
CitationProceedings of the Royal Society of London - B 276: 2931-2940 (2009)
AbstractThe general hypothesis of mate choice based on non-additive genetic traits suggests that individuals would gain important benefits by choosing genetically dissimilar mates (compatible mate hypothesis) and/or more heterozygous mates (heterozygous mate hypothesis). In this study, we test these hypotheses in a socially monogamous bird, the blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus). We found no evidence for a relatednessbased mating pattern, but heterozygosity was positively correlated between social mates, suggesting that blue tits may base their mating preferences on partner’s heterozygosity. We found evidence that the observed heterozygosity-based assortative mating could be maintained by both direct and indirect benefits. Heterozygosity reflected individual quality in both sexes: egg production and quality increased with female heterozygosity while more heterozygous males showed higher feeding rates during the broodrearing period. Further, estimated offspring heterozygosity correlated with both paternal and maternal heterozygosity, suggesting that mating with heterozygous individuals can increase offspring genetic quality. Finally, plumage crown coloration was associated with male heterozygosity, and this could explain unanimous mate preferences for highly heterozygous and more ornamented individuals. Overall, this study suggests that non-additive genetic traits may play an important role in the evolution of mating preferences and offers empirical support to the resolution of the lek paradox from the perspective of the heterozygous mate hypothesis.
Publisher version (URL)http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/276/1669/2931
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/110484
DOIhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2009.0417
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