Sexual conflict can result in coercive mating. Because males bear low costs of heterospecific mating, coercive males may engage in misdirected mating attempts toward heterospecific females. In contrast, sexual selection through consensual mate choice can cause mate recognition cues among species to diverge, leading to more accurate species recognition. Some species show both coercive mating and mate choice-associated courtship behaviors as male alternative reproductive tactics. We hypothesized that if the selection pressures on each tactic differ, then the accuracy of species recognition would also change depending on the mating tactic adopted. We tested this hypothesis in the guppy (Poecilia reticulata) and mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) by a series of choice experiments. Poecilia reticulata and G. affinis males both showed imperfect species recognition and directed all components of mating behavior toward heterospecific females. They tended to direct courtship displays more frequently toward conspecific than heterospecific females. With male P. reticulata, however, accurate species recognition disappeared when they attempted coercive copulation: they directed coercions more frequently toward heterospecific females. We also found that heterospecific sexual interaction had little effect on the fecundity of gravid females, which suggests that prepregnancy interactions likely underpin the exclusion of G. affinis by P. reticulata in our region.
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