Male ornaments can evolve through the exploitation of female perceptual biases such as those involved in responding to cues from food. This type of sensory exploitation may lead to confusion between the male signals and the cues that females use to find/recognize food. Such interference would be costly to females and may be one reason why females evolve resistance to the male ornaments. Using a group of species of viviparous fish where resistance to a sensory trap has evolved, we demonstrate that females exposed to an ornament that resembles food have a diminished foraging efficiency, that this effect is apparent when foraging on a food item with which the ornament shares visual attributes, and that not all species are equally affected by such confusion. Our results lend support to the model of ornamental evolution through chase-away sexual conflict.
- Received December 14, 2011.
- Accepted January 10, 2012.
- This journal is © 2012 The Royal Society