Female sexual preferences toward conspecific and hybrid male mating calls in two species of polygynous deer, Cervus elaphus and C. nippon

Wyman, Megan T, Locatelli, Yann, Charlton, Benjamin D and Reby, David (2016) Female sexual preferences toward conspecific and hybrid male mating calls in two species of polygynous deer, Cervus elaphus and C. nippon. Evolutionary Biology, 43 (2). pp. 227-241. ISSN 0071-3260

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The behavioral processes at the basis of hybridization and introgression are understudied in terrestrial mammals. We use a unique model to test the role of sexual signals as a reproductive barrier to introgression by investigating behavioral responses to male sexual calls in estrous females of two naturally allopatric but reproductively compatible deer species, red deer and sika deer. Previous studies demonstrated asymmetries in acoustic species discrimination between these species: most but not all female red deer prefer conspecific over sika deer male calls while female sika deer exhibit no preference differences. Here, we extend this examination of acoustic species discrimination to the role of male sexual calls in introgression between parent species and hybrids. Using two-speaker playback experiments, we compared the preference responses of estrous female red and sika deer to male sexual calls from conspecifics versus red × sika hybrids. These playbacks simulate early secondary contact between previously allopatric species after hybridization has occurred. Based on previous conspecific versus heterospecific playbacks, we predicted that most female red deer would prefer conspecific calls while female sika deer would show no difference in their preference behaviors toward conspecific and hybrid calls. However, results show that previous asymmetries did not persist as neither species exhibited more preferences for conspecific over hybrid calls. Thus, vocal behavior is not likely to deter introgression between these species during the early stages of sympatry. On a wider scale, weak discrimination against hybrid sexual signals could substantially contribute to this important evolutionary process in mammals and other taxa.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: sexual communication, vocalization, species discrimination, mating, sexual preference, hybridization, introgression, deer
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Depositing User: Ellena Adams
Date Deposited: 07 Jul 2017 13:26
Last Modified: 27 Apr 2023 10:39
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/69125

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