Influence of female nutritional status on mating dynamics in a sexually cannibalistic praying mantid

K. L. Barry*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    32 Citations (Scopus)


    The classical paradigm of sexual selection is that of advertising males and choosy females; however, male mate choice may be more common than previously thought. Unlike visual and acoustic cues, females rather than males usually emit long-distance chemical signals for mate attraction, thus providing an excellent opportunity to examine male mate choice further. Here, I used the sexually cannibalistic praying mantid Pseudomantis albofimbriata to determine the effect of female body condition on male mate choice via chemical cues in a natural scenario. Female body condition is positively correlated with fecundity and negatively correlated with the propensity to cannibalize in this system, so I predicted strong male mate choice for good-condition females to maximize male reproductive fitness. Results of field-based choice tests showed differential male attraction to good-condition females: all males were found on the cages of good-condition females and none on those of poor-condition females. In a second series of choice tests conducted in large field enclosures, I found that some poor-condition females attracted males in the absence of good-condition females, and that these females had significantly more eggs in their ovaries than the unattractive poor-condition females. Furthermore, when egg number was controlled but female body condition varied, males no longer had a significant preference for good-condition females. I therefore propose that the male preference for fecund females is a result of egg-bearing females producing a greater quantity/quality of pheromone than egg-free females, and that chemical cues are likely to be an honest indicator of female fecundity in this system.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)405-411
    Number of pages7
    JournalAnimal Behaviour
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2010


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