Experimental and Applied Acarology

, Volume 62, Issue 4, pp 425–436 | Cite as

Does frequency-dependence determine male morph survival in the bulb mite Rhizoglyphus robini?

  • Jacques A. DeereEmail author
  • Isabel M. Smallegange


Alternative reproductive phenotypes (ARPs) represent discrete morphological variation within a single sex; as such ARPs are an excellent study system to investigate the maintenance of phenotypic variation. ARPs are traditionally modelled as a mixture of pure strategies or as a conditional strategy. Most male dimorphisms are controlled by a conditional strategy, where males develop into a particular phenotype as a result of their condition which allows them to reach a certain threshold. Individuals that are unable to reach the threshold of a conditional strategy are considered to ‘make the best of a bad job’; however, these individuals can have their own fitness merits. Given these fitness merits, condition-dependent selection alone is not sufficient to maintain a conditionally determined male dimorphism and other mechanisms, most likely frequency-dependent selection, are required. We studied in an experiment, the male dimorphic bulb mite Rhizoglyphus robini—where males are fighters that can kill other males or benign scramblers—to assess the strength of frequency-dependent survival in a high and low-quality environment. We found that male survival was frequency-dependent in the high-quality environment but not the low-quality environment. In the high-quality environment the survival curves of the two morphs crossed but the direction of frequency-dependence was opposite to what theory predicts.


Alternative reproductive tactics Male dimorphic mite Frequency-dependence Threshold trait Polymorphism 



We are thankful to Tim Coulson, Lochran Traill and two anonymous referees for their insightful comments on previous versions of the manuscript. The work was funded by a European Research Council Advanced Grant awarded to Tim Coulson.

Supplementary material

10493_2013_9751_MOESM1_ESM.docx (183 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 182 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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