Date of Award

Spring 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Dr. Ralph Saporito


Sexual selection and female mate choice are driving forces in the evolution and maintenance of biological diversity, and may function in the evolution of many secondary sexual characteristics throughout multiple taxa. Female mate selection has been experimentally shown to drive the evolution of color between the polytypic populations of the dendrobatid frog, Oophaga pumilio, in the Bocas del Toro archipelago in Panama. However, limited studies exist examining biologically relevant female mate choices within a single population. Using analogous experimental arenas from previous studies, females were presented with two males exhibiting phenotypic extremes from within the same population at La Selva Biological Research Station in Northeastern Costa Rica. Females did not prefer males with certain color phenotypes, however they did tend to choose the larger male or the first male encountered. Size may indicate a male’s ability to defend reproductive resources, and close proximity of a male may be important in energy optimization for the females. The present results differ from those in Bocas del Toro whereby females chose males with specific color phenotypes, possibly because in the present study with realistic mating situations, the level of color variation is not great enough to infer fitness advantages of the male. Further, measuring female choice by time in proximity in an experimental arena may be inadequate due to its artificiality, especially considering the complex courtship exhibited in this species which is difficult to replicate in such lab experiments. Future studies investigating naturally occurring mating pairs are ! 2 needed to further understand the specific parameters females use to assess potential mates.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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