The scent of dominance: female field crickets use odour to predict the outcome of male competition

  • Raine KortetEmail author
  • Ann Hedrick
Original Article


Pheromones may convey information about mate quality and social status. In the field cricket Gryllus integer, females mount the males for copulation, such that males cannot coerce females to mate. We examined whether virgin G. integer females preferred the scent of potentially dominant males to that of subordinate males. First, we collected pheromones by confining males on filter paper. Next, we offered filter paper from each of two size-matched males and control paper to females that had never been exposed to males, and measured the time spent by the female on each kind of paper. Finally, dominance status of the males in each size-matched pair was determined by pitting the two males against one another in agonistic contests. When offered filter paper from subsequently dominant versus subsequently subordinate males, females spent more time on the paper from the dominant male than the subordinate male, and much less time on control paper. Thus, pheromones may inform female G. integer about a male's potential to achieve dominant social status. Male pheromones were also associated with the female's tendency to mount a male. In contrast to cockroaches, where females prefer the scent of subordinate males (presumably to avoid risk of injury), female crickets prefer the scent of potentially dominant males and are more likely than males to wound their mating partners.


Dominance Pheromones Female choice Gryllus integer Male–male competition 



Special thanks to M. Tam, R. Helkala, L. Berger and A. Leonard for their assistance in the laboratory. We thank A. Vainikka, H. Kokko and four anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on the manuscript. This study was supported by the Academy of Finland to RK (decision 204837) and by a grant from the National Science Foundation to AH (NSF IBN-0076484). The experiments reported here comply with the current laws of the USA


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Neurobiology, Physiology and BehaviorUniversity of California, DavisDavisUSA

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