Female choice selects for a viability-based male trait in pheasants
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Recent theory on sexual selection1–4 suggests that females in species without paternal care choose mates by their secondary sexual characters because these indicate genotypic quality which will be transmitted to the offspring. These ideas are not yet empiri-cally supported as data quantifying the relationship between female mate choice and female reproductive success are lacking. Only in one case, in Colias butterflies, has it been demonstrated unequivo-cally that females choose 'good genotypes' as mates5 and there is only one study, on Drosophila, demonstrating that mate choice increases one component of offspring fitness6. Spur length of male pheasants (Phasianus colchicus) correlates with various fitness-related properties7. We here present the first experimental field data showing that female pheasants select mates on the basis of male spur length and that female mate choice correlates with female reproductive success.