I began my career exploring sexual selection in fishes. In many species, females are the “choosy” sex and males must display and compete for the attention of females. However, females may choose to avoid the costs of spending time “sizing up” males before deciding to mate. Females could avoid these costs by simply copying the choice of other females. Using controlled experiments, my honours research found that female three-spined sticklebacks do not copy the mate choice of other females. Instead, mate-choice copying may be too costly in this type of system as males are also responsible for caring for the eggs whereas in systems with mate-choice copying the females care for the eggs. This discovery has implications for understanding the evolution of sexual selection.
Patriquin-Meldrum, KJ and J-G J Godin. 1997. Do female three-spined sticklebacks copy the mate choice of others? American Naturalist 151: 570-577 PDF