Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 31, Issue 6, pp 585–598 | Cite as

Assortative Mating by Size in the American Rubyspot Damselfly (Hetaerina americana)

  • Martín Alejandro Serrano-MenesesEmail author
  • Kenia López-García
  • Aldo Isaac Carrillo-Muñoz


Assortative mating refers to the non-random nature of mating patterns between certain males and females. Thus, males and females may associate negative- or positively, based on different traits. Amongst these associations, assortative mating by size is one of the most common patterns found in natural populations of animals. Two main hypotheses have been proposed to account for the occurrence of assortative mating by size. First, it may be the result of mechanical, temporal, or physiological constraints. Second, it may occur in response to direct or indirect selection on mating preferences. Here we investigate whether the American rubyspot damselfly exhibits true assortative mating by size. Males of this species exhibit high levels of male-male competition, as they compete over territories, to which females are attracted for copulation. There is a documented large male body size advantage: the largest males are better able to hold their territories and thus secure more copulations. Our major results show that i) mated males are more likely to be larger than unmated males, whereas mated and unmated females tend to have similar body sizes; ii) H. americana exhibits true assortative mating by size; as such, this pattern is not driven by seasonal changes in the body sizes of males and females. We suggest that this mating pattern occurs in this species given the advantages of large male size, and the advantages of large female body size (i.e. higher fecundity). We believe that males may be able to evaluate a female’s reproductive value and exert mate choice.


Assortative mating body size territoriality damselfly 



A. I. C.-M. is a PhD student of the Doctorado en Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad Autónoma de Tlaxcala. This study was partially funded by the programme Fortalecimiento de Cuerpos Académicos (Convocatoria 2016) (SEP-PRODEP), through a grant to the Cuerpo Académico Ecología y Evolución (UATLX-CA-227), Universidad Autónoma de Tlaxcala, Mexico.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martín Alejandro Serrano-Meneses
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kenia López-García
    • 1
    • 2
  • Aldo Isaac Carrillo-Muñoz
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Departamento de Ciencias Químico-BiológicasUniversidad de las Américas PueblaPueblaMexico
  2. 2.Facultad de Ciencias de la SaludUniversidad Autónoma de TlaxcalaTlaxcalaMexico
  3. 3.Centro Tlaxcala de Biología de la ConductaUniversidad Autónoma de TlaxcalaTlaxcalaMexico
  4. 4.Doctorado en Ciencias BiológicasUniversidad Autónoma de TlaxcalaTlaxcalaMexico

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