Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 64, Issue 2, pp 225–236

Effects of extreme variation in female morph frequencies on the mating behaviour of male damselflies

  • Janice J. Ting
  • Jessica Bots
  • Felipe Pérez Jvostov
  • Hans van Gossum
  • Thomas N. Sherratt
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00265-009-0839-x

Cite this article as:
Ting, J.J., Bots, J., Pérez Jvostov, F. et al. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (2009) 64: 225. doi:10.1007/s00265-009-0839-x

Abstract

Female-limited polymorphism is often attributed to selection to avoid excessive male mating attempts. It is encountered in various taxonomic groups, but is particularly common in damselflies, where one female morph (andromorph) typically resembles the conspecific male in colour pattern, while the other(s) (gynomorph(s)) do not. Two sets of theories have been proposed to explain the phenomenon in damselflies, which can be classified as the learned mate recognition (LMR) and male mimicry (MM) hypotheses. To test predictions of these hypotheses, we evaluated the rate of male sexual response towards female morphs and conspecific males in the damselfly Nehalennia irene. The LMR hypothesis predicts that males should respond sexually to andromorphs at greater rates in populations containing a higher relative frequency of andromorphs. The MM hypothesis predicts that males respond more often sexually to both andromorphs and males as the ratio of andromorphs to males increases. While LMR predicts that the rate of mating attempts towards gynomorphs should vary, the MM predicts that it should be relatively fixed. On experimentally presenting live specimens to focal males in five different populations with extreme variation in female morph frequencies, we observed that as the andromorph frequency and ratio of andromorphs to males increased, the proportion of male mating attempts increased on both andromorphs and males, whereas it decreased on gynomorphs. While the simplest form of the MM hypothesis is rejected, the results support specific predictions of both hypotheses and suggest that future studies should not treat these hypotheses as mutually exclusive.

Keywords

Female polymorphism Frequency-dependent selection Learned mate recognition Male mimicry Male harassment Odonates 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Janice J. Ting
    • 1
    • 3
  • Jessica Bots
    • 2
  • Felipe Pérez Jvostov
    • 1
  • Hans van Gossum
    • 2
  • Thomas N. Sherratt
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Evolutionary Ecology GroupUniversity of AntwerpAntwerpBelgium
  3. 3.Integrative Behaviour and Neuroscience Group, Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of Toronto ScarboroughTorontoCanada

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