Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 7, Issue 6, pp 829–841 | Cite as

Male perch selection and the mating system of the robber fly,Promachus albifacies (Diptera: Asilidae)

  • Jon M. Hastings
  • Gary N. Dodson
  • J. Lee Heckman


We studied the activity and spatial distribution of the robber fly,Promachus albifacies, in a desert grassland habitat in central New Mexico. Late in the season males spent most of the daytime on or near cholla and yucca plants that had dead stems or dead flower stalks at least 1 m high. Of the three hypotheses (thermoregulation, foraging, mate encounter site) considered as explanations for this distribution, the mate-encounter-site hypothesis was best supported. Plants used by females as oviposition sites were the focus of male activity. Males perched within or near these plants and attempted copulations with females detected nearby. Most matings were initiated at these locations. Seasonal changes in male and female activity also supported the mate-encounter-site hypothesis. Early in the season, females spent little time ovipositing, and predictably, males spent little time on or near these plants. Such a mating system may be described as resource defense polygyny, since males acted aggressively toward one another at oviposition sites even when females were not present. However, the short tenure of males at these sites is suggestive of scramble competition polygyny. We discuss possible reasons why this particular mating system has evolved.

Key words

robber flies mating system resource defense polygyny behavioral thermoregulation foraging 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jon M. Hastings
    • 1
  • Gary N. Dodson
    • 2
  • J. Lee Heckman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesNorthern Kentucky UniversityHighland Heights
  2. 2.Biology DepartmentBall State UniversityMuncie

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