Female mate preferences in Drosophila simulans: evolution and costs

J Evol Biol. 2010 Aug;23(8):1672-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2010.02033.x. Epub 2010 Jun 7.


Female mate preference is central to sexual selection, and all indirect benefit models require that there is genetic variation in female preference. This has rarely been tested however, with relatively few studies documenting heritable variation in female preference and even fewer that have directly selected on mate preference to unequivocally show that it can evolve. Additionally, costs of mate preference are poorly understood even though these have implications for preference evolution. We selected on female preference for ebony-males in replicate Drosophila simulans lines, and generated a rapid evolutionary response in both replicates, with the proportion of females mating with ebony-males increasing from approximately 5% to 30% after five generations of selection. This increase was independent of changes in ebony-males as only females were included in our selection regime. We could detect no cost to mate preference itself other than that associated with the fitness consequences of mating with ebony males.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mating Preference, Animal / physiology*
  • Quantitative Trait, Heritable
  • Selection, Genetic