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Mating Success of Pheromone-Emitting Necrophorus Males: Do Attracted Females Discriminate Against Resource Owners?

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Males of the burying beetle Necrophorus vespilloides were observed during pheromone emission in the field. The males emitted pheromones either after burial of a carcass ('haves') or without having found a carcass ('have-nots'). Males of these two groups were equally effective in attracting conspecific females. Obviously females can distinguish 'have-nots' from 'haves' as soon as they meet the male for the first time. Most of the females attracted by 'have-not' males accepted copulations, whereas females attracted by 'have' males strongly rejected mating attempts of the pheromone-emitting male. A 'have' male was allowed to mate only after the female had found the carcass. Females that had been attracted by 'have-not' males usually flew off after a few minutes, whereas the duration of stay of females with 'have' males mostly exceeded 40 minutes. After having met an attracted female, 'haves' usually did not resume pheromone emission during this evening. 'Have-not' males hardly ever failed to resume scent emission after having been interrupted by a female. The benefit of the shown behaviour of 'have' and 'have-not' males as well as of females is discussed.

Affiliations: 1: (Lehrstuhl fur Evolutionsforschung der Universität, Postfach 8640, D-4800 Bielefeld 1, B.R.D.)


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