Mating success of resident versus non-resident males in a territorial butterfly

Martin Bergman*, Karl Gotthard, David Berger, Martin Olofsson, Darrell J. Kemp, Christer Wiklund

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


Male-male competition over territorial ownership suggests that winning is associated with considerable benefits. In the speckled wood butterfly, Pararge aegeria, males fight over sunspot territories on the forest floor; winners gain sole residency of a sunspot, whereas losers patrol the forest in search of females. It is currently not known whether residents experience greater mating success than non-residents, or whether mating success is contingent on environmental conditions. Here we performed an experiment in which virgin females of P. aegeria were allowed to choose between a resident and a non-resident male in a large enclosure containing one territorial sunspot. Resident males achieved approximately twice as many matings as non-residents, primarily because matings were most often preceded by a female being discovered when flying through a sunspot. There was no evidence that territorial residents were more attractive per se, with females seen to reject them as often as non-residents. Furthermore, in the cases where females were discovered outside of the sunspot, they were just as likely to mate with non-residents as residents. We hypothesize that the proximate advantage of territory ownership is that light conditions in a large sunspot greatly increase the male's ability to detect and intercept passing receptive females.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1659-1665
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1618
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Butterfly vision
  • Contest success
  • Female choice
  • Lepidoptera
  • Mate choice
  • Mate locating behaviour


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