Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 475–482 | Cite as

Forceps Size Does Not Determine Fighting Success in European Earwigs

  • John D. Styrsky
  • Stephen Van Rhein


Male European earwigs (Forficula auricularia) possess substantially larger forceps than females and use these forceps to batter rivals in intrasexual contests to determine dominance. Although previous investigations have shown that male fighting and mating success increases with forceps size, it is not clear that sexual selection acts directly on forceps size per se; increased forceps size may be a correlated response to selection for some other trait. We experimentally reduced forceps length of males and paired them with unmanipulated males in staged encounters. Although apparent (postmanipulation) forceps length did not affect contest outcomes, original (premanipulation) forceps length did: males with longer original forceps won more contests. These results suggest that weapon size itself does not determine success in contests between male European earwigs. Thus, sexual selection may operate on forceps size in some other context or may act on some other trait that covaries with forceps size.

Dermaptera Forficula auricularia male–male competition sexual dimorphism fighting success 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • John D. Styrsky
    • 1
  • Stephen Van Rhein
    • 1
  1. 1.Behavior, Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics Section, Department of Biological SciencesIllinois State UniversityNormal

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