Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 63, Issue 12, pp 1727–1733

No male agonistic experience effect on pre-copulatory mate choice in female earwigs

  • Emile van Lieshout
  • Ellen van Wilgenburg
  • Mark Adrian Elgar
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00265-009-0788-4

Cite this article as:
van Lieshout, E., van Wilgenburg, E. & Elgar, M.A. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (2009) 63: 1727. doi:10.1007/s00265-009-0788-4

Abstract

Mating with dominant males may confer considerable benefits, but also incur significant costs, hence intrasexual competitiveness is a likely target of mate choice. In addition to established modes of mate assessment, females may use cues or signals associated with agonistic experience effects to assess the relative competiveness of males. Experience effects, where the outcome of a fight increases the likelihood of a similar outcome in subsequent fights, may result from an animal’s altered state after conflict, but can also arise from strategic rival use of information perceived about this altered state. While females may similarly use this information in mate choice decisions, this potential consequence of male–male conflict has largely been neglected. Here, we investigate the effects of experience on subsequent agonistic performance in the earwig Euborellia brunneri by imposing winning or losing experiences on males and rematching them with naïve, size-matched rivals. We reveal a strong loser effect in subsequent fights, with nearly all previous “losers” losing against new rivals. In contrast, we found no equivalent winner effect, with previous “winners” exhibiting no increased likelihood of winning. We subsequently test whether the effects of male agonistic experience extend to pre-copulatory female mate choice. We show that females, when allowed to choose between naïve males and “winners” or “losers”, do not discriminate between males based on their recent agonistic experience. Therefore, while fighting history can play an important role in male–male interactions, females may not attend to this information.

Keywords

AttractivenessCombatDermapteraFighting abilityInsectResource holding potential

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emile van Lieshout
    • 1
  • Ellen van Wilgenburg
    • 2
  • Mark Adrian Elgar
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of MelbourneVictoriaAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Science, Policy & ManagementUniversity of California-BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA