, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 301-306

Alternative mating strategies in the water strider Gerris elongatus (Heteroptera, Gerridae)

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Summary

Males of the water strider Gerris elongatus established territories which included copulation and oviposition sites (small pieces of fallen bamboo). Males were aggressive and competition for territory and females was observed frequently. Male midlegs were more developed than female midlegs and were used as weapons. Reproductive behaviour changed as the breeding season advanced. Early in the season immature females were attracted by male surface wave courtship signals, then copulated white floating on the water surface without ovipositing (type 1). In midseason, males established territories, produced calling signals and attracted females which copulated and oviposited there with male postcopulatory guarding (type 2). In late season, many females oviposited without postcopulatory guarding on pondweed mats near fallen bamboo. Non-territorial males waiter for the arrival of these females and copulated without courtship, but mating success was low (type 3). These alternative mating strategies appeared to depend on differences in male size. Larger males were superior to smaller males in many ways (establishing territory, fighting, mating etc.). The largest males defended territories and had higher mating success than small non-territorial males. Medium sized males used all three strategies according to the number of empty territories and seasonal femald distribution.