Behavioural induction of unreceptivity to mating from a post-copulatory display in the red mason bee, Osmia bicornis

In: Behaviour
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  • 1 Institute of Biology/Zoology, Department Animal Physiology, Martin-Luther-University, Domplatz 4, D-06099 Halle (Saale), Germany

In monandrous species, females have to manage their mating receptivity not only to gather an appropriate sperm supply, but to avoid further male sexual harassment as well. The shutdown of female receptivity to mating is often an irreversible process and therefore should result from a reliable signal. Females of the red mason bee, Osmia bicornis (syn. O. rufa), mate only once within the first day after their emergence from the maternal nest. The unreceptivity to mating of a mated female is induced by a male post-copulatory display, which takes place for about 10 min after ejaculating. During this display the male obviously applies an anti-aphrodisiac that reduces female’s attractiveness resulting in protection from other rival male sexual harassment. Protection by odour is only temporarily needed because females eventually reduce their attractiveness and receptivity to mating by themselves within a few days after emergence. The autonomous decrease in virgin female’s receptivity to mating is simply age driven and independent from mating status. In summary, the involvement of ejaculate substances in causing a loss of female receptivity to mating can be excluded for this species.

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