Good genes or sexy sons?: testing the benefits of female mate choice in the painted turtle, Chrysemys picta

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McTaggart, Seanna J.

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University of Guelph


The "good-genes" and the "sexy-son" hypotheses explain the evolution of female preferences in species where females do not receive direct benefits from mating. The good genes hypothesis predicts that females prefer certain males because they confer a genetic benefit to her offspring, whereas the sexy son hypothesis predicts no such benefit. This study tested these opposing predictions in the painted turtle ('Chrysemys picta'). Paternity of twenty clutches from a small, closed population was determined using microsatellites. Field observation revealed that female choice was active in this species, and molecular data confirmed that mating was non-random. Clutches of males that sired more than one clutch had higher hatching frequency than clutches of males only siring one clutch, supporting the good-genes hypothesis. Furthermore, males of higher reproductive success had smaller carapaces than males of lower reproductive success.



Painted turtle, Female mate, Choice, Reproductive success, Genetic benefit