Males are generally expected to be discriminating in their choice of mates when females vary in quality and when under sperm competition from rival males. However, how sperm competition and female quality interact to influence male mating decisions remains poorly understood. Here, we explored the concurrent effects of sperm competition and female body length on male mating decisions in the Trinidadian guppy (Poecilia reticulata) as a model system. We used female body length as a proxy for fecundity and manipulated the relative size difference of paired stimulus females concurrently with sociosexual cues (i.e., presence of rival males) that may predict sperm competition. When all else was equal, males preferred the larger female when the paired females differed considerably in body length. The presence of either 1 or 2 rival males near, and sexually interacting with, the initially preferred female reduced a focal male's preference for that female and increased the probability that he would reverse his initial mate preference. However, focal males were more likely to reverse their initial preference when the females were similar in body length than when they differed considerably in body length after observing initially preferred females interacting with 1 rival male. Our novel results suggest that male guppies simultaneously evaluate sperm competition and female quality when making mating decisions.

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Keywords body size, male mate choice, mate quality, sexual selection, social information, sperm competition
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Journal Behavioral Ecology
Jeswiet, S.B. (Sarah B.), Lee-Jenkins, S.S.Y. (Stacey S.Y.), & Godin, J.-G.J. (2012). Concurrent effects of sperm competition and female quality on male mate choice in the Trinidadian guppy (Poecilia reticulata). Behavioral Ecology, 23(1), 195–200. doi:10.1093/beheco/arr175