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Genetic polymorphism for alternative mating behaviour in lekking male ruff Philomachus pugnax


ALTERNATIVE male mating tactics are widespread among animal taxa1–3, but there are few well documented examples of genetic polymorphisms for them4–6. The dimorphism in male courtship behaviour between independent and satellite ruffs, Philomachm pugnax7,8 (a lekking sandpiper), has often been cited as a potential example but this has been questioned9,10 because of the lack of data11 and the widespread phenotypic plasticity in the development or expression of alternative tactics in other species1–3,9,12–14. By rearing ruffs in captivity, we now show that differential morph development is genetically controlled and consistent with a single-locus, two-allele autosomal genetic polymorphism. Several potentially relevant environmental factors do not appear to alter behavioural development.

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Lank, D., Smith, C., Hanotte, O. et al. Genetic polymorphism for alternative mating behaviour in lekking male ruff Philomachus pugnax. Nature 378, 59–62 (1995).

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