Male and Female Mating Behavior is Dependent on Social Context in the Butterfly Bicyclus anynana
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Reproduction is often more costly to females than it is to males, leading to the evolution of ornamented or competitive males and choosy females. Reproduction costs to females, however, can be reduced through nuptial gifts provided by males. These gifts, by increasing female survival or fecundity, can promote the evolution of mutual mate choice, ornamentation, or competition in both sexes, as well as plasticity in mating behavior dependent on social context. We tested for plasticity in male and female mating behavior in a species of butterfly, Bicyclus anynana, where male spermatophore gifts contribute to female survival and fecundity, and where mutual mate choice and ornamentation were previously established. We examined the effect of a sexual competitor on male–female interactions by observing and comparing the behavior of male–female pairs with that of triads containing either an extra male or an extra female. In the presence of a sexual competitor both males and females copulated less than when in male–female pairs, regardless of the direction of sex-ratio skew. Active males increased their own likelihood to copulate, while active females increased their likelihood of being courted. In addition, there was an effect of social context on relative rates of male and female courting and flying. These results suggest that both males and females change their mating behavior in response to social context in the butterfly Bicyclus anynana.