Male soapberry bugs (Jadera haematoloma)face severe mating competition at the northern edge of their range due to male-biased adult sex ratios. Copulations lasting up to 11 days may serve a mate guarding function (encompassing four or more ovipositions), but copulation duration is highly variable, with some pairings lasting as little as 10 min. Data were gathered to describe factors that influence the reproductive costs and benefits of prolonged copulation. Estimated copulation durations (mean ± SD) were 20 ± 23 h in the lab and 50 ± 8 h in the field and were only weakly affected by sex ratio. Females mated for 5 min produced as many fertile eggs as those mated for 600 min laid; they became depleted of fertile sperm after about 25 days. In twicemated females, the first male's paternity was reduced by about 60%, and all females (N = 13) whose mates were removed experimentally mated again within an average of 6 min. The outcome of sperm competition on a perclutch basis was not highly predictable. The possibility of increased sperm displacement in longer copulations was not tested. Males often guarded females during oviposition and successfully defended them from intruding single males by recopulating. Such intrusions occurred in the majority of oviposition attempts observed in nature. Even though most females mated promiscuously, in a focal aggregation with a mean sex ratio of 2.2 ± 0.4 males/female, the interval between matings by males was commonly several days. Males appeared to respond facultatively to several aspects of the distribution and availability of females. The intensities of mating competition and sperm competition indicate that monogamous mate guarding should be favored over nonguarding in nature. Unpredicted brief. pairings may result from assessment by males of female reproductive value or of their own physical condition, or from female resistance.
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Carroll, S.P. The adaptive significance of mate guarding in the soapberry bug,Jadera Haematoloma (Hemiptera: Rhopalidae). J Insect Behav 4, 509–530 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01049335
- Jadera haematoloma
- mate guarding
- mate searching
- prolonged copulation
- sex ratio
- sexual selection
- soapberry bug
- sperm competition
- sperm transfer