Paczolt says the study supports several aspects of the sexual selection theory not only do individuals choose their mates based on a variety of traits, but also, this choice can be expressed both before and after mating.
"The one trait in the pipefish that seems to stand out is the size of the female," she adds.
"Mate choice in the Gulf pipefish is related to the size of the female. Males tend to seek out larger females to be their mates. If he really likes his female mate, he makes a greater effort to tend their babies. It's almost as if he is saying, 'Are these babies worth my effort?' If he is not overly fond of the mother, the answer appears to be 'No,' and he invests fewer resources."
Paczolt says by studying male pregnancy in pipefish, it may give researchers a better understanding of how the brood pouch in syngnathid fishes evolved. "The whole phenomenon of male pregnancy is full of conflict and far more complex than we had previously realized," she notes.
|Contact: Keith Randall|
Texas A&M University