Correlation between pre-copulatory and cryptic male choice in the red flour beetle

Joi Janel'e Wright, Aditi Pai

Abstract


Male mate choice is a universal phenomenon yet many aspects of male mate choice evade a full understanding. We use an insect model system, the promiscuous red flour beetle (Tribolium castaneum) to explore different components of male mate choice. In this pilot study, our aim is to establish female attributes that are used as mate choice indicators by males. Next we wish to understand the correlation between pre-copulatory and cryptic male choice behaviors.  The study tested whether pre-copulatory and cryptic mate choice by males is correlated. We first establish female attributes that are preferred by males (mating status, nutrition status and age) and next test for evidence of cryptic male choice. In no-choice tests, males preferred virgin (unmated) females to mated females and young females to old females. Further we also found evidence that males invest more towards preferred ‘young’ females in terms of time spent in copula. There was no evidence for cryptic female choice for virgin females. Thus we find that female age is a good indicator of female quality and forms the basis for pre-copulatory and cryptic male choice.

 


Keywords


: Tribolium castaneum, pre-copulatory male mate choice, cryptic male choice, red flour beetles, animal behavior

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