Repeatability of mate preference functions in Enchenopa treehoppers (Hemiptera: Membracidae)
Patterns of variation in mate preferences provide information about the processes influencing the evolution of mate choice behaviour. We measured variation in female mate preferences using preference functions, which are curves that describe female responses across variation in male signals. Over 3 weeks of testing, we repeatedly measured female Enchenopa binotata ‘Ptelea’ treehoppers (Hemiptera: Membracidae) for their preference for male signal frequency (Hz). We then calculated the consistency of differences in mate preference functions among females (i.e. repeatability) and variability across females for the preference functions. We then measured traits describing different aspects of variation in mate preferences, including peak preference and selectivity. We found repeatability in the overall preference functions, indicating a potential for preference functions to respond to selection. Furthermore, we found substantial repeatability and variability in selectivity traits and low repeatability and variability in peak preference. Finally, we found only weak covariation between peak preference and selectivity. We discuss the implications of our results within the framework of the evolution of mate preferences, both in terms of past selection shaping mate preferences, and the potential for preferences to respond to current selection. âº We describe variation in mate preferences using mate preference functions. âº We found repeatability and variability in all aspects of mate preferences. âº Repeatability and variability were low for peak preference and high for preference shape. âº Our results are consistent with rapid past evolution in peak preference. âº Our results also suggest high potential for preference shape to respond to selection.