Why do males choose heterospecific females in the red spider mite?
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In some species, males readily show courtship behaviour towards heterospecific females and even prefer them to females of their own species. This behaviour is generally explained by indiscriminate mating to acquire more mates, but may partly be explained by male mate preference mechanisms that have developed to choose among conspecific females, as male preference for larger females causes mating with larger heterospecific females. Recently, we found that males of the red spider mite, Tetranychus evansi collected from Spain (invasive population), prefer to mate with females of the two-spotted spider mite, T. urticae rather than with conspecific females. In spider mites, mate preference for non-kin individuals has been observed. Here, we investigated if T. evansi males collected from the area of its origin (Brazil) also show preference for heterospecific females. Secondly, we investigated if mate preference of T. evansi males for heterospecific females is affected by their relatedness to conspecific females which are offered together with heterospecific females. We found that mate preference for heterospecific females exists in Brazilian T. evansi, suggesting that the preference for heterospecific females is not a lack of evolved premating isolation with an allopatric species. We found that T. evansi males showed lower propensity to mate with heterospecific females when alternative females were non-kin in the two iso-female lines collected from Brazil. However, the effect of relatedness on male mate preference was not significant. We discuss alternative hypotheses explaining why T. evansi males prefer to mate with T. urticae females.
KeywordsHeterospecific mating Inbreeding avoidance Invasive species Male mate choice Reproductive interference
We thank Drs Arne Janssen, Merijn Kant, Juan Manuel Alba and Dan Li from the University of Amsterdam for the lines of spider mites, Mr. Ludek Tikovsky from the University of Amsterdam for the tomato plants, and Dr Johannes A. J. Breeuwer and Mr. Bart Schimmel from the University of Amsterdam for suggestions and primers in the check of endosymbiont infections in this study. HS was funded as a PhD candidate by the University of Amsterdam. YS was funded as a postdoc via the budget of MWS for the Royal Academy of Sciences (KNAW) professorship. YS activity in the University of Amsterdam was partly supported by the subsidy for the Program for Promoting the Enhancement of Research Universities, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), Japan, Researcher Dispatch and Invitation (etc.) Program, the University of Tsukuba—2014, Program III—Medium to Short-Term Overseas Dispatch Program.
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