Mismatched partners that achieve postpairing behavioral similarity improve their reproductive success

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Science Advances  04 Mar 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 3, e1501013
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501013

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Behavioral similarity between partners is likely to promote within-pair compatibility and to result in better reproductive success. Therefore, individuals are expected to choose a partner that is alike in behavioral type. However, mate searching is very costly and does not guarantee finding a matching partner. If mismatched individuals pair, they may benefit from increasing their similarity after pairing. We show in a monogamous fish species—the convict cichlid—that the behavioral similarity between mismatched partners can increase after pairing. This increase resulted from asymmetrical adjustment because only the reactive individual became more alike its proactive partner, whereas the latter did not change its behavior. The mismatched pairs that increased their similarity not only improved their reproductive success but also raised it up to the level of matched pairs. While most studies assume that assortative mating results from mate choice, our study suggests that postpairing adjustment could be an alternative explanation for the high behavioral similarity between partners observed in the field. It also explains why interindividual behavioral differences can be maintained within a given population.

  • partner compatibility
  • parental care
  • behavioral convergence
  • personality
  • reproductive success
  • mate choice
  • assortative mating
  • monogamy
  • convict cichlid

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