Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 51-58

First online:

The reproductive behavior of Anthidium manicatum (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae) and the significance of size for territorial males

  • Lucia Liu SeveringhausAffiliated withDepartment of Entomology, Cornell University
  • , Barbara Harris KurtakAffiliated withDepartment of Entomology, Cornell University
  • , George C. EickwortAffiliated withDepartment of Entomology, Cornell University

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Males of the wool-carder bee, Anthidium manicatum, patrol clumps of garden plants. Females of this species visit these plants for pollen, nectar, and pubescence; they also mate there. Females are polyandrous, with intervals between copulations as short as 35 s. Patrolling males defend their territories (0.1–1.3 m2) against other males and against other species of flower-visiting insects. Honey bees may be rendered unable to fly by the attacks of A. manicatum.

Territory owners perform exploratory flights to other males' territories, changing territories often (median ownership 4–7 days; maximum 30 days) and flying up to 450 m to establish new territories. Territorial usurpations are nearly always by larger males.

Female visitation rate is significantly correlated with number of flowers on a territory. The head size of territory-owner males shows significant correlation with territorial quality (measured by number of flowers, not area) and thus with number of female visits and copulatory opportunities. Some males fail to maintain territories and instead attempt to forage and copulate in other males' territories while the owners are otherwise occupied. Nonowner males are significantly smaller than owners, forage less often and from fewer flowers, and achieve significantly fewer copulations than owners. Females, however, do not reject smaller, nonowner males at a higher rate than they do larger, owner males; their choice for male size appears to be indirect, based instead on choice of food resource.

The interval between a copulation and the male's next attempt with a different female is not shorter than that involving the same female. Males do not escort just-mated females about their teritories, as observed in Anthidium maculosum. Territorial behavior in this species most likely evolved through intrasexual competition for reproductive success which led to sexual dimorphism. The defense of a resourcebased territory is the mechanism used by a male to maximize his reproductive potential.