Does meiotic drive alter male mate preference?

S. R. Finnegan, L. Nitsche, M. Mondani, M. F. Camus, K. Fowler and A. Pomiankowski,  Behavioral Ecology,  13:194-201. 2019.

Male mate preferences have been demonstrated across a range of species, including the Malaysian stalk-eyed fly, Teleopsis dalmanni. This species is subject to sex-ratio (SR), an X-linked male meiotic driver, which causes the dysfunction of Y-sperm and the production of all-female broods. While there has been work considering female avoidance of meiotic drive males, the mating decisions of drive-bearing males have not been considered previously. Drive males may be less able to bear the cost of choice as SR is associated with a low-frequency inversion that causes reduced organismal fitness. Drive males may also experience weaker selection for preference maintenance if they are avoided by females. Using binary choice trials, across two experiments, we confirmed male preference for large (fecund) females but found no evidence that the strength of male preference differs between drive and standard males. We showed that large eyespan males displayed strong preference for large females, whereas small eyespan males showed no preference. Taken together, these results suggest that, even though meiotic drive is associated with lower genetic quality, it does not directly interfere with male mate preference among available females. However, as drive males tend to have smaller eyespan (albeit only similar to 5% on average), this will to a minor extent weaken their strength of preference.