Frequency-Dependent and Correlational Selection Pressures Have Conflicting Consequences for Assortative Mating in a Color-Polymorphic Lizard, Uta stansburiana
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... ion pressures. Balancing selection among morphs preserves equilibrium frequencies, while correlational selection maintains favorable trait combinations within each morph. Under negative frequency-dependent selection, females should mate (often disassortatively) with rare male morphotypes to produce conditionally fit offspring. Conversely, under correlational selection, females should mate assortatively to preserve coadapted gene complexes and avoid ontogenetic conflict. Using controlled breeding designs, we evaluated consequences of assortative mating patterns in color-polymorphic sideblotched lizards (Uta stansburiana), to identify conflict between these sources of selection. Females who mated disassortatively, and to conditionally high-quality males in the context of frequency-dependent selection, experienced highest fertility rates. In contrast, assortatively mated females experienced higher fetal viability rates. The trade-off between fertility and egg viability resulted in no overall fitness benefit to either assortative or disassortative mating patterns. These results suggest that ongoing conflict between correlational and frequency dependent selection in polymorphic populations may generate a tradeoff between rare-morph advantage and phenotypic integration and between assortative and disassortative mating decisions. More generally, interactions among multiple sources of diversity-promoting selection can alter adaptations and dynamics predicted to arise under any of these regimes alone.