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Change in male coloration associated with artificial selection on foraging colour preference

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Sensory drive proposes that natural selection on nonmating behaviours (e.g. foraging preferences) alters sensory system properties and results in a correlated effect on mating preferences and subsequently sexual traits. In colour-based systems, we can test this by selecting on nonmating colour preferences and testing for responses in colour-based female preferences and male sexual coloration. In guppies (Poecilia reticulata), individual functional links of sensory drive have been demonstrated providing an opportunity to test the process over more than one link. We measured male coloration and female preferences in populations previously artificially selected for colour-based foraging behaviour towards two colours, red and blue. We found associated changes in male coloration in the expected direction as well as weak changes in female preferences. Our results can be explained by a correlated response in female preferences due to artificial selection on foraging preferences that are mediated by a shared sensory system or by other mechanisms such as colour avoidance, pleiotropy or social experiences. This is the first experimental evidence that selection on a nonmating behaviour can affect male coloration and, more weakly, female preferences.

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