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Journal Article

Female ornamentation and the fecundity trade-off in a sex-role reversed pipefish


Mobley,  Kenyon B.
Department Evolutionary Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Mobley, K. B., Morrongiello, J. R., Warr, M., Bray, D. J., & Wong, B. B. (2018). Female ornamentation and the fecundity trade-off in a sex-role reversed pipefish. Ecology and Evolution, 8(18), 9516-9525. doi:10.1002/ece3.4459.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0002-6671-C
Sexual ornaments found only in females are a rare occurrence in nature. One explanation for this is that female ornaments are costly to produce and maintain and, therefore, females must trade-off resources related to reproduction to promote ornament expression. Here, we investigate whether a trade-off exists between female ornamentation and fecundity in the sex-role reversed, wide-bodied pipefish, Stigmatopora nigra. We measured two components of the disk-shaped, ventral-striped female ornament, body width, and stripe thickness. After controlling for the influence of body size, we found no evidence of a cost of belly width or stripe thickness on female fecundity. Rather, females that have larger ornaments have higher fecundity and thus accurately advertise their reproductive value to males without incurring a cost to fecundity. We also investigated the relationship between female body size and egg size and found that larger females suffer a slight decrease in egg size and fecundity, although this decrease was independent of female ornamentation. More broadly, considered in light of similar findings in other taxa, lack of an apparent fecundity cost of ornamentation in female pipefish underscores the need to revisit theoretical assumptions concerning the evolution of female ornamentation. © 2018 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.