Athens, Ga. -- When it comes to picking a mate, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young had an answer: If you cant be with the one you love, love the one youre with. As it turns out, that may be a cardinal rule in the animal kingdom, too.
New research that crosses several species boundaries shows that when animals must choose less-than-preferred (to them) mates, females and males apparently have ways to compensate that increase the chance their offspring will survive. The study, just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, adds weight to the Compensation Hypothesis, a proposal that has given insight into how individuals can pass on their genes even under less than ideal circumstances.
Its always better for offspring if parents can mate with preferred partners, but its becoming clear that when parents cant have that preferred partner, they have ways of making up for it, said Patricia Adair Gowaty, a Distinguished Research Professor of Ecology and Genetics at the University of Georgia and lead author of the study. When female choosers were in enforced pairs with males they did not prefer, they laid more eggs. Similarly, when males are paired with females they do not prefer, they ejaculate more sperm. This compensation seems to be a way of making the best of a bad job.
Co-authors of the paper were Wyatt Anderson, Alumni Foundation Distinguished Professor of Genetics, and Yong-Kyu Kim, an assistant research scientist in Andersons lab, both at UGA; Cynthia K. Bluhm of the Delta Waterfowl and Wetlands Research Station in Canada; Lee C. Drickamer of Northern Arizona University; and Allen J. Moore of Centre for Ecology and Conservation at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom.
One of the new studys strongest arguments for the Compensation Hypothesis is that it includes experimental results in Tanzanian cockroaches, fruit flies, pipefish, wild mallards and feral house mice. When each species faced experiment
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University of Georgia