We used a breeding design involving 18 sires and 108 dams to study the heritabilities of male ornaments in red jungle fowl (Gallus gallus). Ornaments used by females to choose mates showed low heritabilities, with the exception of comb and wattle measures. The general absence of heritability suggests that a genetic covariance did not exist at the time of this study between most male ornaments and female preferences for those ornaments. This result is contrary to a key prediction of the arbitrary or Fisherian hypothesis of sexual selection. Comb size and color are condition-dependent traits that reflect short-term changes in health, and comb size of males was positively correlated with offspring weight. Our results are consistent with the expectation of good-genes hypotheses that male ornaments reflect the ability of males to withstand environmental stresses.
- Mate choice
- Sexual selection