Cryptic female choice (CFC) refers to female-mediated processes occurring during or after copulation that result in biased sperm use in favor of preferred or compatible males. Despite recent empirical support for this hypothesis, evidence that CFC contributes towards the evolution of male body ornaments, in the same way that precopulatory female choice does, is currently lacking. Here, we tested the possibility that CFC selects for increased male attractiveness in the guppy Poecilia reticulata, a freshwater fish exhibiting internal fertilization. Specifically, we examined whether females are able to manipulate the number of sperm transferred or retained at copulation in favor of relatively attractive males. In support of this prediction, we found that following solicited copulations the number of sperm inseminated is influenced exclusively by the female's perception of relative male coloration, independent of any direct manipulation of males themselves. Because females prefer brightly colored males during precopulatory mate choice, our finding that colorful males are also favored as a consequence of enhanced insemination success indicates that cryptic female choice can reinforce precopulatory preferences for extravagant male ornaments.
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Vol. 58 • No. 3