Homosexual behaviour increases male attractiveness to females

David Bierbach, Christian T. Jung, Simon Hornung, Bruno Streit, Martin Plath

Abstract

Male homosexual behaviour—although found in most extant clades across the Animal Kingdom—remains a conundrum, as same-sex mating should decrease male reproductive fitness. In most species, however, males that engage in same-sex sexual behaviour also mate with females, and in theory, same-sex mating could even increase male reproductive fitness if males improve their chances of future heterosexual mating. Females regularly use social information to choose a mate; e.g. male attractiveness increases after a male has interacted sexually with a female (mate choice copying). Here, we demonstrate that males of the tropical freshwater fish Poecilia mexicana increase their attractiveness to females not only by opposite-sex, but likewise, through same-sex interactions. Hence, direct benefits for males of exhibiting homosexual behaviour may help explain its occurrence and persistence in species in which females rely on mate choice copying as one component of mate quality assessment.

  • Received November 5, 2012.
  • Accepted November 20, 2012.
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