The cost of sexual coercion and heterospecific sexual harassment on the fecundity of a host-specific, seed-eating insect (Neacoryphus bicrucis)
- Cite this article as:
- McLain, D. & Pratt, A. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (1999) 46: 164. doi:10.1007/s002650050606
- 182 Downloads
Two species of seed-eating true bugs, Neacoryphus bicrucis (Heteroptera: Lygaeidae) and Margus obscurator (Heteroptera: Coreidae) co-occur on ragwort, Senecio tomentosus, in southern Georgia, USA. Males of both species sometimes engage in chases and protracted grappling with females that flee initial mountings. Sometimes genital coupling occurs while the wriggling female is restrained in the male's grasp. Chases, grappling, and mounting attempts are misdirected toward heterospecific females, heterospecific males, or conspecific males. In a laboratory study, confinement of mated N. bicrucis females with either conspecific or heterospecific males reduced fecundity by approximately one-half relative to mated females confined only with other females. Perhaps as a consequence of this, N. bicrucis females frequently leave areas of high host plant density, where they prefer to oviposit, when males are abundant. The abundance of each species is positively correlated with host plant density but the two species rarely occur together on the same plants. This may be an effect of heterospecific courtship which induces the flight of N. bicrucis more than the flight of M. obscurator. The laboratory results suggest that copulations following chases and grappling represent sexual harassment, not a mechanism of active female choice for a vigorous mate. As sexual harassment imposes high fitness costs that favor abandonment of host plants, it may, when misdirected, incidentally limit habitat use by ecologically similar species.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.