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Context-dependent female mate preferences in leaf-footed cactus bugs

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Female mate preferences can shape sexual selection and evolution. Thus, it is important to understand the factors that affect mating decisions. Here, we examine context-dependent mate preferences in the leaf-footed cactus bug, Narnia femorata Stål (Hemiptera: Coreidae), a species that experiences distinct seasonal changes and spatial variation in the quality of their food, cactus. Previous work has shown that cactus with fruit is a superior resource for these insects, however they must sometimes develop, mate, and reproduce without cactus fruit. We reared males on Opuntia humifusa (Raf.) (Cactaceae) cactus pads with and without cactus fruit. We found that females preferred the odour of males that had developed on cactus fruit over males that developed only on cactus pads. However, the current cactus context also affected female preference. Females were more likely to choose males that developed with cactus fruit when cactus fruit was currently available. Our results suggest that natural fluctuations in resource availability during development and adulthood may result in fluctuations in the strength of sexual selection via female mate choice.

Affiliations: 1: aOtis L. Floyd Nursery Research Center, College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences, Tennessee State University, McMinnville, TN 37110, USA; 2: bUniversity of Exeter, Centre for Ecology and Conservation, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, Cornwall Campus, Penryn TR10 9EZ, UK; 3: dEntomology & Nematology Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, 32611, USA

10.1163/1568539X-00003137
/content/journals/10.1163/1568539x-00003137
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2014-01-01
2016-12-03

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