Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 201–208 | Cite as

The adaptive significance of male polymorphism in the acarid mite Caloglyphus berlesei

  • Jacek Radwan


Two forms of males occur in the acarid mite, Caloglyphus berlesei. One of them uses its thickened third pair of legs to kill other males; the other, without modified legs, does not attack other males. Previous studies have shown that the form of the male is environmentally determined: “fighter” males develop only at low population densities and their development can be suppressed by substances emanating from dense colonies. In this study, the duration of development, longevity and virility of the two male morphs were measured. The only significant difference was that fighters had a shorter development time between the two last moults. In another experiment, two groups of colonies were maintained under the same conditions but had different numbers of individuals: small colonies contained 2 fighters and 2 non-fighters, whereas large colonies contained 30 males of each type. The relative reproductive success of both morphs was estimated from numbers of matings. In small colonies, the estimated reproductive success (ERS) was significantly higher for fighters than for non-fighters, mainly because in over 50% of these colonies a single fighter male managed to kill all the rival males and monopolize the females. The opposite was true in large colonies, in which non-fighters achieved significantly higher ERS, mainly because the fighters were killed in fights more often than the non-fighters. This implies that the ratio of costs to benefits obtained by adopting the fighter-male strategy increases with the number of rival males, which may explain conditional male development in C. berlesei.

Key words

Fights Reproductive success Polyphenism Alternative behaviors Population size 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jacek Radwan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Zoopsychology and Animal Ethology, Institute of Environmental BiologyJagiellonian UniversityKrakowPoland

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