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Reproductive Behaviour of Sepsis Cynipsea (L.) (Diptera: Sepsidae) Ii. the Significance of the Precopulatory Passive Phase and Emigration

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The passive phase of Sepsis cynipsea (L.) differs from that of Scatophaga stercoraria L. in that it is pre-, not postcopulatory, though both appear to have evolved through intra-male competition. Male S. cynipsea which 'established a claim' to females for a possible eventual copulation would have had a high selective advantage over males which waited until females had finished oviposition before mounting. The most advantageous male strategy would, however, be a postcopulatory passive phase of the Scatophaga type. Unlike Scatophaga, the female rejection reactions in S. cynipsea are highly effective in preventing copulation; though they frequently fail to prevent mounting. For this reason, and because the precopulatory passive phase is advantageous to the female in avoiding rejection delay during oviposition, the nett result of intrasexual selection should stabilize at a precopulatory passive phase. This is providing that at least some of the females guarded during oviposition will afterwards mate. Emigration from the dung to the surrounding grass after oviposition is effected by the female. This behaviour reduces the rates of attack and 'take-over' (where the original male is displaced by another male), but because copula duration is related to temperature and the dung is hotter than the surrounding grass, there would be a nett time gain in staying on the dropping. The adaptive significance of emigration may be to reduce exposure to predation, the chances of which appear to be much higher on the dung than in the grass.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Zoology, University of Liverpool, England


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