Biology ETDs


Angela Hung

Publication Date



The study of sexual selection saw its intrepid inception when Charles Darwin observed the earnest with which many male birds must court a female before she will, but often not, mate with him. His idea of the choosy female' was a radical one in the Victorian era when women were regarded as the 'passive sex. In the century and a half that followed, sexual selection driven by female choice is now widely accepted and strongly supported. Today, with emerging technologies, the nuances and complexities of sexual reproductive are finally coming to light. Female choice in two species is described here. First, the effect of familiarity was tested by allowing female sheepshead minnow, Cyprinodon variegatus to cohabit with a set of males, then replacing half of these males with new males. Spawnings with each individual male was recorded in both conditions. In the period in which females were with familiar and unfamiliar males, it was found that females spawned more with the familiar males. In the second species, the brown anole, Anolis sagrei, sexual selection was investigated using a combination of behavioral, molecular, and statistical techniques. The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is a cluster of genes that encode receptors that are critical for adaptive immunity in jawed vertebrates. These genes have also been found to affect mate choice in many species, however, the genetic characterization of these genes is poor for non-avian reptiles. In order to examine the effect of the MHC on mate choice in the brown anole, a portion of this gene first needed to be described. As these data were gathered, courtship and mating behaviors were measured in the same animals. Using logistic regression to control for behavior, it was found in mating trials that females tended to mate with males that carried more genetic diversity.

Project Sponsors

University of New Mexico Biology Department; Center for Evolutionary and Theoretical Immunology; University of New Mexico




mate choice, sexual selection, Anolis sagrei, MHC, Cyprinodon

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Biology Department

First Advisor

Kodric-Brown, Astrid

First Committee Member (Chair)

Miller, Robert

Second Committee Member

Thornhill, Randy

Third Committee Member

Cox, Robert