Size-assortative mating in explosive breeders: A case study of adaptive Male mate choice in anurans

Lindsey Swierk, Tracy Langkilde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Exploration of size-assortative mating (SAM) in animals has led to a near consensus that it arises through constraints in choice, such as preference for large females combined with a large male advantage during intrasexual competition. Although such ‘apparent’ SAM is well explored, whether SAM arises because of specific preferences for size-matched mates has been less thoroughly considered. We tested for ‘preference-based’ SAM in an explosively breeding frog (Rana sylvatica), quantifying how male and female sizes affected fertilization and if males preferred size-matched females. We found that size mismatch severely reduced fertilization. Furthermore, males preferred size-matched, not larger, females in mate choice trials. Because males that mated with much larger females fertilized fewer eggs overall than they would have with size-matched females, male preference for size-matched females may be adaptive. Our results expand understanding of the mechanisms underlying SAM, suggesting that multiple mechanisms may simultaneously cause size-assortative mating patterns to emerge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)849-868
Number of pages20
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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