TitleMeasuring the effects of pairing success, extra-pair copulations and mate quality on the opportunity for sexual selection
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1995
AuthorsWebster, MS, PruettJones, S, Westneat, DF, Arnold, SJ
KeywordsAgelaius phoeiceus components of fitness extra-pair copulations mate quality opportunity for selection red-winged blackbirds sexual selection variance in reproductive success lifetime reproductive success female choice mating success variance fitness diff

Sexual selection can act through variation in the number of social mates obtained, variation in mate quality, or variation in success at obtaining extra-pair fertilizations. Because within-pair fertilizations (WPF) and extra-pair fertilizations (EPF) are alternate routes of reproduction, they are additive, rather than multiplicative, components of fitness. We present a method for partitioning total variance in reproductive success (a measure of the opportunity for selection) when fitness components are both additive and multiplicative and use it to partition the variance into components that correspond to each mechanism of sexual selection. Computer simulations show that extra-pair fertilizations can either increase or decrease total variance, depending on the covariance between within-pair and extra-pair success. Simulations also suggest that for socially monogamous species, extra-pair fertilizations have a greater effect than variation in mate quality or pairing status on the opportunity for selection. Application of our model to data gathered for a population of red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) indicates that most of the variance in male reproductive success was attributable to within-pair sources;of variance. Nevertheless, extra-pair copulations increased the opportunity for selection because males varied both in the proportion of their social young that they sired and in the number of extra-pair mates that they obtained. Furthermore, large and positive covariances existed between the number of extra-pair mates a male obtained and both social pairing success and within-pair paternity, indicating that, in this population, males preferred as social mates also were preferred as extra-pair mates.