Record Details

Vitousek, Maren Noelani;Mitchell, Mark A;Woakes, Anthony J;Niemack, Michael D;Wikelski, Martin
High costs of female choice in a lekking lizard
Journal Article
Amblyrhynchus cristatus
Although the cost of mate choice is an essential component of the evolution and maintenance of sexual selection, the energetic cost of female choice has not previously been assessed directly. Here we report that females can incur high energetic costs as a result of discriminating among potential mates. We used heart rate biologging to quantify energetic expenditure in lek-mating female Galápagos marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus). Receptive females spent 78.9 ± 23.2 kJ of energy on mate choice over a 30-day period, which is equivalent to ~3/4 of one day’s energy budget. Females that spent more time on the territories of high-quality, high-activity males displayed greater energetic expenditure on mate choice, lost more mass, and showed a trend towards producing smaller follicles. Choosy females also appear to face a reduced probability of survival if El Niño conditions occur in the year following breeding. These findings indicate that female choice can carry significant costs, and suggest that the benefits that lek-mating females gain through mating with a preferred male may be higher than previously predicted.