, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 147-153

Female-coerced monogamy in burying beetles

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Abstract

The reproductive interests of the sexes often do not coincide, and this fundamental conflict is believed to underlie a variety of sex-specific behavioral adaptations. Sexual conflict in burying beetles arises when a male and female secure a carcass that can support more offspring than a single female can produce. In such a situation, any male attracting a second female sires more surviving offspring than he would by remaining monogamous, whereas the female's reproductive success decreases if a rival female is attracted to the carcass. Monogamously paired males on large carcasses do in fact attempt to attract additional females by means of pheromone emission, whereas males on small carcasses do not. Females physically interfere with male polygynous signaling using various behavioral tactics. We demonstrate that such interference leads to a significant decrease in the amount of time that males spend signaling, according females a means by which to impose monogamy on their mates.

Communicated by D.T. Gwynne