, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 353-366

Sexual Selection Under Scramble Competition: Mate Location and Mate Choice in the Eucalypt Leaf Beetle Chrysophtharta agricola (Chapuis) in the Field

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Abstract

For males of many species, the number of offspring sired can depend on the number of females mated. While pre- and postcopulatory choice by females can affect the outcome of potential mate encounters, mate location is a necessary prerequisite to any possible courtship and subsequent mating. Mate location of Chrysophtharta agricola in the field was examined using sticky traps baited with sexually receptive conspecific beetles. More beetles were caught on traps baited with conspecific beetles of either sex than on control traps that contained foliage only. Furthermore, 94% of beetles captured on control traps were males, indicating that the mating system of Chrysophtharta agricola can be labeled prolonged searching scramble competition polyandry, in which receptive females are evenly dispersed spatially and temporally, and males search competitively for them. Operational sex ratios were 1:1 throughout the season. By sampling paired and unpaired beetles in the field, we found that beetles generally did not select mates based on body size. Furthermore, neither sex mated preferentially with partners that were uninfected by parasitic mites or with beetles of the same generation. In the absence of postcopulatory female choice, the ability of males to locate females may therefore be the most important trait in determining male mating success.