Effects of sensory modality on learned mate preferences in female swordtails
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Females often base their mate selection on multiple male traits. Different cues may be weighted differently in mating decisions, and play different roles such as indicating species identity or condition. The ontogeny of preferences for each cue can differ, which may offer a proximate explanation for the differential female evaluation of multimodal traits of males. We investigated whether female preferences for the multimodal male cues of Xiphophorus birchmanni swordtails are learned for traits in both olfactory and visual sensory modalities. We reared X. birchmanni females with either conspecific adults or adults of a closely related species, Xiphophorus malinche. We found that both olfactory and visual preferences were learned, and that the timing of olfactory learning was different from that of visual cues. (C) 2011 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.