Multimodal mate assessment by male praying mantids in a sexually cannibalistic mating system

Katherine L. Barry*, Gregory I. Holwell, Marie E. Herberstein

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    51 Citations (Scopus)


    The traditional view of sexual selection has been that of competing males and choosy females; however, more recently it has been recognized that males may exhibit mate choice when females vary in quality and when males suffer costs associated with mating. Sexually cannibalistic mating systems provide an opportunity to examine male mate choice further: the high costs potentially involved in the mating process for males, as well as variation in female quality, predict male mate choice. We used the praying mantid Pseudomantis albofimbriata to determine the effect of female body condition on male mate choice in a system with frequent precopulatory sexual cannibalism. Female body condition is positively correlated with fecundity and negatively correlated with the propensity to cannibalize, so we predicted males would strongly prefer females in good condition to maximize their reproductive potential. Results of our simultaneous choice tests showed that males use chemical and visual cues for mate location and assessment, and that they can use either of these sensory modalities to distinguish and choose between females differing in body condition, with a significant preference for good-condition females. However, surprisingly, males rarely rejected poor-condition females in the more ecologically relevant scenario of only one immediate potential mate and both sensory modes available to them, which may be explained by the strong scramble competition known for praying mantid systems. These results show that even when female quality varies and the cost of mating for males is substantial, male mate rejection does not always evolve. Crown

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1165-1172
    Number of pages8
    JournalAnimal Behaviour
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - May 2010


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