Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 447-455

First online:

Extreme Promiscuity in a Mating System Dominated by Sexual Conflict

  • Jennifer E. BlythAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of Leicester
  • , André S. GilburnAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of LeicesterSchool of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Stirling Email author 

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Coelopids live in wrack beds consisting of seaweed washed up on beaches. Their mating system is characterized by sexual conflict and convenience polyandry, with females resisting male mating attempts. We estimated the level of harassment by males and the success rate of rejection by females collected from a high density wild population. Males mounted a female every 8.41 min. Of these mounts 35% resulted in copulation. This suggests that females could be mated up to 5 times every 2 h. Females typically live for 3 weeks, and thus, could mate with hundreds of males during their lifetime. We found a 50:50 sex ratio throughout the wrack bed revealing that females do not avoid male harassment by leaving the wrack bed when not ovipositing.


sexual conflict pre-mating struggle convenience polyandry sex ratio male harassment multiple mating