Mate detection and seasonal variation in stick insect mating behaviour (Phamatodea: Clitarchus hookeri)

in Behaviour
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For animals that exhibit a scramble competition mating system, sexual selection pressures on mate searching ability are expected to be strong. Scramble competition mating systems evolve when populations provide females with equal accessibility to all male competitors, yet sex ratio and population density influences mating systems and varies seasonally. The stick insect species, Clitarchus hookeri, is frequently found in copula, yet very little is known about it’s mating behaviour. We preformed behavioural tests and assayed antennal sensory morphology to determine whether males used chemosensory cues to detect females. Through natural field observations we found populations to be significantly male-biased earlier in the season, while later, populations began to display equal sex ratios. With increasing female availability mating pair proportions steadily increased, while copulation duration declined. These results support C. hookeri as a scramble competitor, and demonstrate males may alter their behaviour in response to the seasonal variation in female density.

Mate detection and seasonal variation in stick insect mating behaviour (Phamatodea: Clitarchus hookeri)

in Behaviour

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References

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Figures

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    Scanning electron micrographs displaying comparative antennal segment morphology between male (A) and female (B) C. hookeri. The images show; (I) Scapus and pedicel, (II) higher magnification of male basiconic, and female trichoid sensilla, from pedicel, (III) close up of chemosensilla from male antennal segment 9, female 10 and (IV) male antennal segment 9 and female 10.

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    (a) Season 1. Variation in total abundance of adult male (black) and female (light grey) and the total number of mating pairs (dark gray) of C. hookeri observed over 21 days starting from 23 February 2011 (note day one in season 1 is the equivalent of day 73 in season 2). (b) Season 2 variation of total abundance of C. hookeri over 129 days starting 11 December 2011 of adult male (black) and female (light gray) and mating pairs (dark gray) of C. hookeri observed.

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    Variation in operational sex ratio (black line) and proportion of individuals mating (dotted line).

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    Relationship between the total abundance of individuals and the total number of mating pairs found in season 1 (grey, solid line) and season 2 (white dots, large dashed line) for (a) females and (b) males. The line of small dashes is a 1:1 fit to demonstrate how far from a 1:1 ratio this relationship is.

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    Time (in h) mating pairs were found guarding during documented weeks, where guarding duration is recorded as the time mating pairs were found together until they were seen to separate or could no longer be found together.

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    The relationship between the body size of females and the number of night male partners remained guarding them for (top) female mass and (bottom) female length.

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    The relationship between the body size of females and the number of males partners they were found to be mating with. Female body size measurements include mass in grams (a and b), length in mm (c and d), and prothorax length in mm (e and f).

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