Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A role for ecology in male mate discrimination of immigrant females in Calopteryx damselflies?

Dear all,

We have recently published another Calopteryx paper, this time in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. The paper is investigating male mate preferences and asks the question if males have the ability to distinguish between immigrant and resident females. Below is the abstract and the link to the paper.

A role for ecology in male mate discrimination of immigrant females in Calopteryx damselflies?


: Sexual selection against immigrants is a mechanism that can regulate premating isolation between populations but, so far, few field studies have examined whether males can discriminate between immigrant and resident females. Males of the damselfly Calopteryx splendens show mate preferences and are able to force pre-copulatory tandems. We related male mate responses to the ecological characteristics of female origin, geographic distances between populations, and morphological traits of females to identify factors influencing male mate discrimination. Significant heterogeneity between populations in male mate responses towards females was found. In some populations, males discriminated strongly against immigrant females, whereas the pattern was reversed or non-significant in other populations. Immigrant females were particularly attractive to males when they came from populations with similar predation pressures and densities of conspecifics. By contrast, immigrant females from populations with strongly dissimilar predation pressures and conspecific densities were not attractive to males. Differences in the abiotic environment appeared to affect mating success to a lesser degree. This suggests that male mate discrimination is context-dependent and influenced by ecological differences between populations, a key prediction of ecological speciation theory. The results obtained in the present study suggest that gene-flow is facilitated between ecologically similar populations.

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