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Elevated Testosterone Reduces Choosiness in Female Dark-Eyed Juncos (Junco hyemalis): Evidence for a Hormonal Constraint on Sexual Selection?

Joel W. McGlothlin, Diane L. H. Neudorf, Joseph M. Casto, Val Nolan, Jr. and Ellen D. Ketterson
Proceedings: Biological Sciences
Vol. 271, No. 1546 (Jul. 7, 2004), pp. 1377-1384
Published by: Royal Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4142777
Page Count: 8
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Elevated Testosterone Reduces Choosiness in Female Dark-Eyed Juncos (Junco hyemalis): Evidence for a Hormonal Constraint on Sexual Selection?
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Abstract

Because testosterone (T) often mediates the expression of attractive displays and ornaments, in the absence of constraints sexual selection should lead to an evolutionary increase in male T levels. One candidate constraint would be a genetic correlation between the sexes that leads to a correlated response in females. If increased T in females were to have deleterious effects on mate choice, the effect of sexual selection on male T would be weakened. Using female dark-eyed juncos (Junco hyemalis), we tested whether experimentally enhancing female T would lead to a decrease in discrimination between two classes of males, one treated with T (T-males) and one control (C-males). The two female treatments (T-implanted and C-females) spent equal amounts of time with both classes of males, but T-treated females failed to show a preference for either male treatment, whereas C-females showed a significant preference, albeit in an unexpected direction (for C-males). T-females were less discriminating than C-females, irrespective of the direction of their preference. To our knowledge, this is the first study to show that circulating hormones can alter female choosiness without reducing sexual motivation. Our results suggest that hormonal correlations between the sexes have the potential to constrain sexual selection on males.

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