Variation in male courtship costs in butterflies
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- Wedell, N. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (2010) 64: 1385. doi:10.1007/s00265-010-0953-9
A cost of mating is common to both sexes but has predominantly been examined in females. In species where males provide resources to females at copulation, male mating costs are expected to be high as nutrient provisioning enhancing female fecundity is assumed to carry costs. In addition, males frequently court females prior to mating, which is known to carry survival costs to both sexes. However, the magnitude and basis of variation in males’ mating costs remains largely unknown. Here, I examine the effect of nutrient provisioning and courtship on male longevity across full-sib families in the paternally investing green-veined white butterfly, Pieris napi. Copulating males suffered a survival cost as did courting males prevented from copulating, indicating the courtship component of mating is costly. Male P. napi release aphrodisiacs during courtship to promote mating, indicating that these compounds may also be costly to produce. Contrary to expectation, nutrient provisioning was not associated with reduced survival relative to males only allowed to court females, although it is possible that this could be masked by the potentially elevated courtship rates of courting males relative to mating males. Families differed in magnitude of reduced male survivorship, indicating a likely genetic basis to variation in costs of courtship and copulation. Male weight was unrelated to longevity and mating success, whereas longevity strongly influenced male mating success, indicating lifespan is an important male fitness trait in this species.