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Differences in Site Fidelity Among Territorial Males of the Carpenter Bee Xylocopa Varipuncta (Hymenoptera: Anthophoridae)

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Lekking males of the carpenter bee Xylocopa (Neoxylocopa) varipuncta compete for landmark territories, where they are occasionally visited by receptive females. In a study conducted over three flight seasons, less than 10% of marked males qualified as long-term residents (i.e. bees that held the same hovering station for 90 min or more on at least two afternoons). However, among the small minority of long-term residents were some bees that returned to the same landmark for up to 3 hr every afternoon for several weeks. These males defeated many intruders in aerial combat during each afternoon. The hypothesis that site-faithful males were individuals of unusual resource-holding power is not supported. Long-term residents were not larger on average than short-term territory holders. Moreover, the frequency of mating by long-term residents was very similar to that of males in the general population, suggesting that long-term residents did not hold territories that were exceptionally attractive to females. Thus, the basis for site fidelity in this species remains elusive. The rarity of site-faithful males in this species may be related to great daily fluctuations in the numbers of potentially receptive females visiting the landmark territories, which may make the timing of male mate-attracting behavior far more important than regularly returning to defend any one site.

Affiliations: 1: (Department of Zoology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-1501, USA


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