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Nutrition during sexual maturation and at the time of mating affects mating behaviour in both sexes of a burying beetle
- Richardson, Jon, Smiseth, Per T.
- Animal behaviour 2019 v.151 pp. 77-85
- Nicrophorus vespilloides, animal behavior, females, males, mating behavior, nutrition, sexual maturity, sexual selection
- Theory predicts that the outcome of mating interactions should be influenced by the condition of both males and females. First, females should base their mating decisions on reliable cues about male quality, which are often condition dependent. Second, the costs and/or benefits of being choosy during mating may depend on the female's own condition. Finally, when males divide their time between different mating tactics, investment in alternative mating tactics may depend on male condition. Here we examined the effects of male and female nutritional condition on mating behaviour in the burying beetle Nicrophorus vespilloides. We manipulated male and female nutritional condition either during sexual maturation or at the time of mating and monitored female mate choice and male mating tactics. We found that females in poor condition (i.e. starved either during sexual maturation or at the time of mating) preferred to mate with males in good condition over males that were starved at the time of mating. In contrast, well-fed females showed no such preference. Furthermore, males that were starved during sexual maturation increased their investment in alternative mating tactics by spending more time signalling for females. Our results add to evidence suggesting that females in poor condition bias mating towards males in good condition although it is currently unclear why these females are choosier in this species. Ours is the first study to demonstrate that nutritional condition during sexual maturation can influence mating behaviour, which may have implications for the rate and direction of sexual selection.