, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 96-103
Date: 06 Jul 2011

Longer Antennae for Romeo: Assessing Effect of Antennae Length on Courtship and Mating Success in Male Crickets, Acheta domesticus (Orthoptera, Gryllidae)

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Abstract

Animals use a variety of chemosensory functions to coordinate behavioral actions, such as sexual recognition and courtship. In particular, many insects use antennae as a vital chemosensory organ to transmit and receive sexual signals that are believed to be crucial in mate recognition and mating in various species of insects. Crickets provide a usable model to test the significance of antennae in insects. The general importance of antennae in male crickets to initiate courtship, ensure copulation, and post-copulatory mate guarding has been documented in studies that performed full antennectomy. Our study is the first to perform partial antennectomy to test the hypothesis that even partial loss due to injury has negative effects on sexual behaviors. We found that partially antennectomized males are not slower than control males in mate recognition and courtship initiation. However, we found that partially antennectomized males take longer to achieve copulation than control males with normal uncut antennae. Our results suggest that male crickets require long, undamaged antennae to efficiently engage in mating behavior and may already incur fitness costs when they lose half of their antennae.