Behavior

Diminishing the Price of Ostentatiousness

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Science  21 Apr 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5465, pp. 401
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5465.401g

Males of many animal species use ornamentation or vocal display to attract females. The downside of flamboyance is that predators also can be alerted to the male's presence. Female Californian field crickets prefer males with longer calls, but males with longer calls are also more conspicuous to mice, birds, toads, and even a parasitoid fly. It has been thought that such ostentation—whether visual or vocal—would be subject to competing selection pressures.

Hedrick shows experimentally that more conspicuous males compensate with more cautious behavior; they are more reluctant than other males to leave the shelter of the cracks in the ground from which they typically call. Hedrick's study suggests that both traits—call duration and hiding behavior—may be heritable, and it therefore has the potential to alter standard evolutionary models of behavior that assume a fitness cost of sexually selected traits.—AMS

Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B267, 671 (2000).

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