Original Article

Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp 69-75

Frequency-dependent male mate harassment and intra-specific variation in its avoidance by females of the damselfly Ischnura elegans

  • Hans Van GossumAffiliated withEvolutionary Biology Group, RUCA, University of Antwerp, Groenenborgerlaan 171, 2020 Antwerp, Belgium
  • , Robby StoksAffiliated withLaboratory of Aquatic Ecology, University of Leuven (KULeuven), De Bériotstraat 32, 3000 Leuven, Belgium
  • , Luc De BruynAffiliated withEvolutionary Biology Group, RUCA, University of Antwerp, Groenenborgerlaan 171, 2020 Antwerp, Belgium

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Abstract.

We focused on male harassment on different female color morphs of the damselfly Ischnura elegans and on variation in morph-specific mating avoidance tactics by females. In I. elegans, one of the female morphs is colored like the conspecific male (andromorphs) while the other morphs are not (gynomorphs). Our first goal was to quantify morph-specific male mating attempts, hence male harassment, in populations with manipulated population parameters (densities, sex ratios, and proportion of andromorphs). Second, we examined the female's perspective by looking for potential differences in morph-specific mating avoidance tactics and success of those tactics in a natural population. Differences in population conditions did influence the number of male mating attempts per morph. The less frequent female morph was always subject to fewer mating attempts, which contradicts earlier hypotheses on mimicry, but supports those that assume that males learn to recognize female morphs. Gynomorphs occupy less open habitat and often fly away when a male approaches, while andromorphs use more open habitat, do not fly large distances and directly face approaching males. Female morphs did not differ in the proportion of successful mating-avoidance attempts. Our results suggest that the maintenance of the color polymorphism is most probably the result of interactive selective forces depending on variation in all population conditions, instead of solely density- or frequency-dependent selection within populations.

Harassment Color polymorphism Odonata Mimicry Learning