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Influence of alternative mating tactics on predation risk in the damselfly Calopteryx virgo

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Abstract:

Alternative mating tactics are a widespread feature in insects. A typical form of alternative mating behaviour is being a sneaker in the vicinity of a territorial male. Such nonterritorial males have lower mating success, but they may benefit from lower energetic costs and decreased predation risk. In this study, we examined whether nonterritorial male damselflies Calopteryx virgo (L., 1758) are subject to lower predation risk than territorial males. To distinguish predation from other sources of mortality, we used models. The experiment consisted of dried male damselflies settled into the typical perching positions of territorial and nonterritorial males. Also the spatiotemporal patterns of predation risk were studied. The survival of nonterritorial male models was consistently higher than that of territorial male models, which can be attributed to different predation risk. Survival of the models was lower in the presence of avian predators and in large populations. Survival rates were affected by habitat type but did not change during the season. We conclude that nonterritorial male damselflies are less vulnerable to predation and that there may be a trade-off which could potentially make the fitness of sneakers equal to that of territorial males.

Les tactiques d’accouplement de rechange sont communes chez les insectes. Une forme typique de comportement d’accouplement de rechange consiste à agir comme un intrus dans le voisinage d’un mâle territorial. De tels mâles non territoriaux ont un succès reproductif plus bas, mais ils peuvent tirer avantage de coûts énergétiques moins élevés et d’un risque réduit de prédation. Dans notre étude, nous examinons si les mâles non territoriaux de la demoiselle Calopteryx virgo (L., 1758) courent un risque de prédation moins grand que les mâles territoriaux. Afin de distinguer la prédation des autres causes de mortalité, nous avons utilisé des modèles. L’expérience consistait à placer des mâles de demoiselles séchés dans des positions de perchage typiques de mâles territoriaux et non territoriaux. Nous avons aussi étudié les patrons spatiotemporels du risque de prédation. La survie des modèles de mâles non territoriaux est constamment plus élevée que celle des modèles de mâles territoriaux, ce qui peut s’expliquer par des risques de prédation différents. La survie des modèles est réduite en présence d’oiseaux prédateurs et dans les grandes populations. Les taux de survie sont affectés par le type d’habitat, mais ils ne varient pas au cours de la saison. Nous en concluons que les mâles non territoriaux de demoiselles sont moins vulnérables à la prédation et qu’il peut exister un compromis qui peut rendre la fitness des intrus égale à celle des mâles territoriaux.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2009

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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