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Alternative mating tactics in the yellow dung fly: resolving mechanisms of small-male advantage off pasture


Gress, Brian E; Waltzer, Ryan J; Lüpold, Stefan; Droge-Young, Elizabeth M; Manier, Mollie K; Pitnick, Scott (2014). Alternative mating tactics in the yellow dung fly: resolving mechanisms of small-male advantage off pasture. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 281(1774):20132164.

Abstract

Recent work suggests that the yellow dung fly mating system may include alternative patroller-competitor mating tactics in which large males compete for gravid females on dung, whereas small, non-competitive males search for females at foraging sites. Small males obtain most matings off pasture, yet the behavioural mechanism(s) giving rise to this pattern are unknown. We investigated the male and female behaviours that determine mating success in this environment by conducting field mating experiments and found small males to benefit from several attributes specific to the off-pasture mating environment. First, small males from foraging sites exhibited higher mating propensity, indicating that large males away from dung may be depleted of energy and/or sperm. Second, small males were more discriminating, being significantly less likely to attempt with non-gravid females, which are absent on dung but common off pasture. Third, non-gravid females were generally more likely to actively struggle and reject mating attempts; however, such behaviours occurred disproportionately more often with large males. Female Scathophaga stercoraria thus appear to preferentially mate with small males when off pasture. These findings challenge assumptions about male-female interactions in systems with alternative mating tactics and reveal hidden processes that may influence selection patterns in the field.

Abstract

Recent work suggests that the yellow dung fly mating system may include alternative patroller-competitor mating tactics in which large males compete for gravid females on dung, whereas small, non-competitive males search for females at foraging sites. Small males obtain most matings off pasture, yet the behavioural mechanism(s) giving rise to this pattern are unknown. We investigated the male and female behaviours that determine mating success in this environment by conducting field mating experiments and found small males to benefit from several attributes specific to the off-pasture mating environment. First, small males from foraging sites exhibited higher mating propensity, indicating that large males away from dung may be depleted of energy and/or sperm. Second, small males were more discriminating, being significantly less likely to attempt with non-gravid females, which are absent on dung but common off pasture. Third, non-gravid females were generally more likely to actively struggle and reject mating attempts; however, such behaviours occurred disproportionately more often with large males. Female Scathophaga stercoraria thus appear to preferentially mate with small males when off pasture. These findings challenge assumptions about male-female interactions in systems with alternative mating tactics and reveal hidden processes that may influence selection patterns in the field.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Scathophaga stercoraria; alternative mating tactics; female preference; male size; sexual selection
Language:English
Date:7 January 2014
Deposited On:14 Dec 2015 12:11
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 19:27
Publisher:Royal Society Publishing
ISSN:0962-8452
Funders:National Science Foundation, Swiss National Science Foundation, Rosemary Grant Award for Graduate Student Research
Additional Information:Free accessible after 12 months (biological sciences) and 24 months (physical sciences).
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2013.2164
Official URL:http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/281/1774/20132164
PubMed ID:24225455

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