Paternal genetic contribution to offspring condition predicted by size of male secondary sexual character
Sheldon BC., Merila J., Qvarnstrom A., Gustafsson L., Ellegren H.
Whether females can obtain genetic benefits from mate choice is contentious, and the main problem faced by previous studies of natural populations is that many factors other than paternal genes contribute to offspring fitness. Here, we use comparisons between sets of naturally occurring maternal half-sibling collared flycatchers, Ficedula albicollis, to control for this problem. We show, first, that there are paternal genetic effects on nestling fledging condition, a character related to fitness in this species. Further, the magnitude of the paternal genetic contribution to this character is related to the size of a condition-dependent male secondary sexual character. Our results demonstrate that genetic benefits from mate choice can be predicted by the size of a secondary sexual character, and therefore provide direct support for indicator models of sexual selection.