Journal article

Chemosensory cues allow courting male garter snakes to assess body length and body condition of potential mates

R Shine, B Phillips, H Waye, M LeMaster, RT Mason

Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology | SPRINGER | Published : 2003


When choosing between two potential mates, a male may benefit by picking a larger (longer and/or more heavy-bodied) female because she is likely to produce more or larger offspring. Males of many species use visual cues to evaluate the sizes of their mates, but in some situations (at night or in a crowded mating swarm), vision may be useless. Potentially, males may be able to use chemical cues that convey information about female body size. We manipulated cues available to free-ranging male garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis) in large courting aggregations near communal dens in Manitoba, Canada. Males not only directed disproportionate courtship to longer and heavier-bodied female..

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University of Melbourne Researchers