Male mate choice in the chameleon grasshopper (Kosciuscola tristis)

Giselle Muschett*, Kate D. L. Umbers, Marie E. Herberstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In many species, males can increase their fitness by mating with the highest quality females. Female quality can be indicated by cues, such as body size, age and mating status. In the alpine grasshopper Kosciuscola tristis, males can be found riding on subadult females early in the season, and as the season progresses, males engage in fights over ovipositing females. These observations suggest that males may be competing for females that are either unmated (early season) or sperm-depleted (late season). We thus hypothesised that male K. tristis may be choosy in relation to female mating status, and specifically, we predicted that males prefer females that are unmated. We conducted behavioural experiments in which males were given the choice of two females, one mated and one unmated. Contrary to our prediction, males did not mate preferentially with unmated females. However, copulation duration with unmated females was, on average, 24 times the length of copulation with mated females. While female K. tristis can reject mates, we did not observe any evidence of overt female choice during our trials. Females may gain additional benefits from mating multiply and may therefore not readily reject males. While our experiment cannot definitively disentangle female from male control over copulation duration, we suggest that males choose to invest more time in copula with unmated females, perhaps for paternity assurance, and that male mate assessment occurs during copulation rather than beforehand.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)751-759
Number of pages9
JournalEthology
Volume124
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018

Keywords

  • alpine region
  • Australia
  • female mating status
  • mate choice

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