Effects of female feeding regime in a sexually cannibalistic mantid

Fecundity, cannibalism, and male response in Stagmomantis limbata (Mantodea)

Michael R. Maxwell*, Kevin M. Gallego, Katherine L. Barry

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Citations (Scopus)


Female feeding regime exhibited a cascade of effects on reproductive biology and behaviour in the mantid Stagmomantis limbata (Hahn).Well-fed females (High diet) consistently attained greater body mass, thicker abdomens, and higher fecundity than food-limited females (Low diet) in four annual generations. Dorso-ventral abdominal thickness strongly correlated with fecundity.In an experiment in captivity, Low diet females were more likely to cannibalize males than High diet females.High diet females attracted more males than Low diet females in several contexts. In terms of long-range attraction, caged High diet females attracted more males in the field. In terms of short-range attraction, males preferentially mounted and copulated with High diet females in captive paired choice trials. In naturally-occurring pairs in the field, a preference for females with thick abdomens was evident. These results point to two possible explanations: male choice for well-fed females and state-dependent female pheromone emission.Two years of field data indicate considerable variation in female feeding success, as measured by abdominal thickness. Average feeding success in nature appears to be relatively high, when comparing the rate of abdominal expansion in the field to captive females maintained on High diets.In the field, nearly all mounts and copulations occurred in September in both years, when female feeding success is expected to be high. If mating activity occurs during a window of high female feeding success, so as to reduce the risk of cannibalism for males, then the female feeding regime may be implicated in the phenology of mating activity in cannibalistic species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)775-787
Number of pages13
JournalEcological Entomology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010

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