, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 171-178
Date: 13 May 2006

Do Egg Carrying and Protracted Copulation Affect Mobility in the Golden Egg Bug?

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Golden egg bug Phyllomorpha laciniata (Heteroptera, Coreidae) females oviposit on male and female conspecifics that carry ova until they hatch. Embryos benefit from being carried because of diminished risks of predation. Female carriers are never the parents of carried eggs, and males are only rarely the fathers of any carried eggs. Eggs develop and hatch without being carried in the laboratory. Egg carriers may be viewed as victims, exploited by females that encumber them with eggs. The intensity of selection favouring resistance to egg carrying should be proportional to the costs of this behaviour. One possible cost could be a reduction in mobility caused by carried eggs. We compare movement rates among encumbered and unencumbered golden egg bugs of both sexes. Protracted copulations (often exceeding 20 h) typical of this species and mating may also cause reduction in bugs mobility. Therefore, we also evaluate rates of movement of coupled pairs of bugs. Our results indicate that egg loads do not affect the mobility and speed of either males or females. However, copulating pairs are significantly slowed as compared to single bugs. Thus protracted copulations have a clear cost in rates of movement and possibly risks of predation, but there are no apparent mobility costs for egg carrying.