Animal behaviour: Benefits of female mimicry in snakes

@article{Shine2001AnimalBB,
  title={Animal behaviour: Benefits of female mimicry in snakes},
  author={Richard Shine and Ben L. Phillips and Heather L. Waye and Michael P. Lemaster and Robert T. Mason},
  journal={Nature},
  year={2001},
  volume={414},
  pages={267-267}
}
Males of several animal species mimic females either in appearance or in the chemical cues they release, and this mimicry has generally been interpreted in terms of alternative mating strategies –– for example, a male that mimics a female may obtain stolen inseminations or avoid aggression from larger rivals. Our studies of snakes suggest a different explanation, which relies on natural selection rather than sexual selection. Male garter snakes that produce female-like pheromones (she-males… 
Facultative pheromonal mimicry in snakes: “she-males” attract courtship only when it is useful
TLDR
It is shown that (unlike females) she-male garter snakes attract courting males only when they are cold, and low temperatures may suppress volatility of “less attractive” components of the pheromones that she-males use to attract courtship, allowing male snakes to function as transvestites only when this tactic is beneficial.
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  • Biology
    Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences
  • 2003
TLDR
Intraspecific (geographical) variation and phenotypic plasticity in a wide array of reproductive traits (offspring size and number; reproductive frequency; incidence of multiple mating; male tactics such as mate guarding and combat; mate choice criteria) provide exceptional opportunities for future studies.
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TLDR
The sensitive chemosensory apparatus of male garter snakes enables these animals to focus their courtship on females, ignoring males that resemble females either physically (body size) or chemically (pheromones), which has little or no significance for his mating success within a communal mating ball.
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TLDR
Testifies that permanent female mimicry is arguably adaptive and could be seen as a permanent ‘non-aggression pact’ with other males, indicating that the latter not only look like females but also behave like them when defending breeding resources.
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TLDR
A rare female-like morph of ruffs is described: the ‘missing’ third alternative mating strategy, which is called ‘faeder’ and appears to combine feminine and masculine behaviours.
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TLDR
Male Augrabies flat lizards adopt alternative reproductive tactics in which some males (she-males) mimic the visual appearance of females, and it is tested in a wild population whether she-m males are able to mimic females using both visual and chemical signals.
Ontogenetic colour change of a sexual ornament in males of a damselfly: female mimicry, crypsis or both?
TLDR
It is concluded that the female mimicry and crypsis in juvenile males of M. pudica are mechanisms involved in avoidance of predators and unwanted intraspecific interactions, and the signalling of sexual maturity.
Cryptic Forcible Insemination: Male Snakes Exploit Female Physiology, Anatomy, and Behavior to Obtain Coercive Matings
TLDR
It is shown that male garter snakes forcibly inseminate females by taking advantage of specific features of snake physiology, respiratory anatomy, and antipredator behavior.
Female mimicry and an enhanced sexually selected trait: what does it take to fool a male?
TLDR
A case where one of the benefits to being a female mimic could be the increase in size of a sexually selected trait that should eventually decrease the mimics’ ability to fool males is described.
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