Female choosiness and mating opportunities in the blood-sucking bug Rhodnius prolixus

In: Behaviour
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  • 1 aLaboratorio de Ecología y Comportamiento Animal, Departamento de Ecología, Genética y Evolución, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, IEGEBA, CONICET-UBA, Argentina
  • | 2 bLaboratorio de Fisiología de Insectos, Departamento de Biodiversidad y Biología Experimental, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, IBBEA, CONICET-UBA, C1428EHA, Argentina
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We investigated the relationship between female choosiness and mating opportunities in the blood sucking bug Rhodnius prolixus. Rhodnius prolixus females exhibit active discrimination behaviour to male mating attempts which delays or prevents copulation. Female rejection behaviours can be beneficial if mating opportunities are readily available and the pool of males varies in their quality. Thus, the benefits of finding a better quality male may override the cost of rejecting a mating opportunity. Since the availability of mating opportunities is affected by the ratio of sexually active males to females, we randomly assigned focal pairs to arenas with a sex ratio biased toward males, females or without other individuals. More females exhibited rejection behaviour when conspecifics were present, however, no differences were found when the sex ratio was biased toward either males or females. We discuss possible explanations for these results and hypothesize about the adaptive function of female rejection behaviour.

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