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Exploring the influence of individual courtship behaviors on male mating success in a blow fly

Stephanie D. Jones, Phillip G. Byrne, James F. Wallman
Journal of insect behavior 2017 v.30 no.5 pp. 528-543
Chrysomya, courtship, females, insect behavior, males, observational studies, reproductive success, vibration
Male courtship behavior and displays influence female mating decisions, and therefore affect mating success in a diverse range of organisms. While there is substantial evidence confirming that females prefer males who invest more in courtship, less attention has been paid to the relative importance of individual behaviors, and the discrete sequences of courtship that result in mating success. The small hairy maggot blow fly, Chrysomya varipes, performs stereotyped courtship behaviors, involving orienting, tapping, waving, arching, wing vibration and mounting. This study aimed to quantify male investment in specific courtship behaviors, and compare courtship investment and behavioral transitions between males who gained mating success (successful males) and those that did not (unsuccessful males). Our results show that mating success was influenced by the behaviors orienting, tapping, arching and mounting. Behavioral transitions revealed a distinct pattern of behaviors leading to a mating attempt, and some differences were observed between successful and unsuccessful males. Overall, our findings suggest that female mating decisions were based on differences in specific male courtship behaviors. This detailed observational study has quantified multiple courtship behaviors for the first time in C. varipes, and highlights the importance of considering multiple behavioral traits when exploring the influence of male courtship on mating success.