Energetic costs of sexual coercion: the price of persuasion
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 14:00 authored by Michelle Jerry
Females are often subjected to unwanted mating advances from males. Such advances can be costly to both parties. The costs of harassment to females have been widely explored in the literature; however, few studies have measured the direct fitness costs. Moreover, few have examined male costs. Conventional wisdom would lead us to hypothesise that when males and females are housed together, harassment would reduce foraging, growth and reproductive output. This study quantified harassment costs in both sexes by observing behavioural responses and long-term effects of unsolicited mating in a controlled setting. Sexually mature guppies were subjected to two housing treatments: equal sex ratios or single-sex groups. The effects of male coercion on males and females were assessed by measuring behaviour, growth rate and the number of offspring produced. Contrary to our expectations, our results indicated no significant differences in foraging and growth rates between mixed and single-sex shoals for either sex. Moreover, there was no significant difference in fry output between mixed and all-female shoals. Further, large males showed higher survival when housed with females. Thus, it appears that there were no direct costs of harassment for females in natural, mixed-sex shoals, but males appear to bear significant harassment costs. The study provides insights into reproductive behaviour and life history traits.