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Mate Choice and Toxicity in Two Species of Leaf Beetles with Different Types of Chemical Defense


Labeyrie, Estelle; Blanckenhorn, Wolf U; Rahier, Martine (2003). Mate Choice and Toxicity in Two Species of Leaf Beetles with Different Types of Chemical Defense. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 29(7):1665-1680.

Abstract

Evidence for the use of defensive compounds for sexual purposes is scarce, even though sexual selection might have some importance for the evolution of defensive traits. This study investigates the effect of defense-related traits and body size on mating success in two sister species of leaf beetle differing in their type of chemical defense. Oreinagloriosa produces autogenous cardenolides, whereas O. cacaliae sequesters pyrrolizidine alkaloids from its food plant. Larger O. gloriosa males with more toxin or higher toxin concentration had a mating advantage, likely due to direct or indirect female choice. In the laboratory, particular pairings recurred repeatedly in this species, indicating mate fidelity. O. gloriosa females were also subject to sexual selection, possibly by male choice, because larger females and those with higher toxin concentration mated more readily and more often. In O. cacaliae, in contrast, sexual selection for toxicity and body size was not detected, or at best was much weaker. Because toxicity is heritable in O. gloriosa but environment-dependent in O. cacaliae, individuals of the former species could be choosing well-defended partners with “good genes.” Our study suggests that sexual selection may contribute to the maintenance of heritable defensive traits.

Abstract

Evidence for the use of defensive compounds for sexual purposes is scarce, even though sexual selection might have some importance for the evolution of defensive traits. This study investigates the effect of defense-related traits and body size on mating success in two sister species of leaf beetle differing in their type of chemical defense. Oreinagloriosa produces autogenous cardenolides, whereas O. cacaliae sequesters pyrrolizidine alkaloids from its food plant. Larger O. gloriosa males with more toxin or higher toxin concentration had a mating advantage, likely due to direct or indirect female choice. In the laboratory, particular pairings recurred repeatedly in this species, indicating mate fidelity. O. gloriosa females were also subject to sexual selection, possibly by male choice, because larger females and those with higher toxin concentration mated more readily and more often. In O. cacaliae, in contrast, sexual selection for toxicity and body size was not detected, or at best was much weaker. Because toxicity is heritable in O. gloriosa but environment-dependent in O. cacaliae, individuals of the former species could be choosing well-defended partners with “good genes.” Our study suggests that sexual selection may contribute to the maintenance of heritable defensive traits.

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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)
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Life Sciences > Biochemistry
Language:English
Date:1 January 2003
Deposited On:22 Aug 2019 12:14
Last Modified:31 Jul 2020 03:33
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0098-0331
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1023/a:1024283016219

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