Intra- and intersexual selection on male body size in the annual killifish Austrolebias charrua
Since many traits are involved in both female mating decisions and male contest outcomes, female mate choice and male competition can act in concert to intensify sexual selection on male traits, or in opposition to weaken it. In the sexually dimorphic annual killifish, Austrolebias charrua, we evaluated the effect of male body size on female mate choice, male–male competition, and their interaction. We carried out an experiment with three consecutive stages: (i) female choice test between males of different size in a classic two-choice device, (ii) agonistic interactions between males used in the previous stage, and (iii) a second female choice test to evaluate preference consistency in females that either were allowed or were prevented from observing the male competition. Larger males were preferred by females and became socially dominant in agonistic interactions. Further, females were consistent in their choices, and this consistency was independent of whether they had observed or not the male contest. Our research shows that, in A. charrua, intrasexual competition and female mate choice act in concert with respect to male body size. The unique life-history of Austrolebias and the high repeatability of mate-choice assays make this system a promising candidate for studies of behavioural evolution. âº Male competition and female choice act in concert with respect to male body size. âº Female mating preferences were repeatable and robust to social experience. âº Austrolebias are a promising model for the evolutionary genetics of social behaviour.