The ritualized courtship of the Red-legged salamander, Plethodon shermani, has been studied extensively. Males and females possess brightly colored red legs, but little is known about the implications of this coloration on mate choice. An alternative hypothesis is that coloration may be used as a warning signal to predators. Animals were collected in North Carolina and scored for leg coloration (1-10). To test the hypothesis of mate choice, male and female animals varying in leg coloration were paired together in courtship trials and observed every 2 minutes. Linear regressions were performed on data collected to test the predictions that (1) leg color is sexually dimorphic, (2) females prefer males with red legs, and (3) red coloration is condition-dependent. These analyses determined that none of the predictions were sufficient support for the hypothesis of sexual selection for leg coloration; this lack of support gives strength to the alternative hypothesis of aposematic coloration by way of natural selection.
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