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The relative effects of mating status and age on the mating behaviour of female field crickets

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Intrinsic factors such as female age and mating status have been found to affect female choosiness. However, as these factors are often confounded in the wild because mated females are usually older individuals, the relative influence of these two factors on female behaviour is unclear. Using a fully factorial design, we tested the relative effects of age and mating status of female field crickets (Gryllus pennsylvanicus Burmeister, 1838) on both (i) the probability that she would mate and (ii) her latency to mate. We found that virgin females were both more likely to mate and copulated more quickly than mated females, but female age had no significant effect on either the probability of mating or the latency to copulate. These results clearly show that mating status is more important in determining female mating behaviour than age. We suggest that previous work which showed an age effect on female choosiness in virgins alone might be of reduced relevance if most females do not remain unmated for long.

Les facteurs intrinsèques, tels que l’âge de la femelle et son statut reproductif, sont connus pour affecter la sélectivité des femelles. Cependant, parce que ces facteurs sont souvent confondus en nature car les femelles accouplées sont généralement des individus plus âgés, l’influence relative de ces deux facteurs sur le comportement des femelles reste obscure. À l’aide d’un plan d’expérience entièrement factoriel, nous avons testé les effets relatifs de l’âge et du statut reproductif de criquets des champs (Gryllus pennsylvanicus Burmeister, 1838) femelles sur à la fois (i) la probabilité qu’une femelle s’accouple et (ii) la période de latence avant l’accouplement. Les femelles vierges sont plus susceptibles de s’accoupler et elles copulent aussi plus rapidement que les femelles déjà accouplées, mais l’âge de la femelle n’a aucun effet significatif tant sur la probabilité d’accouplement que sur la latence avant l’accouplement. Ces résultats indiquent clairement que le statut reproductif est plus important pour expliquer le comportement de reproduction des femelles que l’âge. Nous croyons que les études antérieures qui ont montré un effet de l’âge sur la sélectivité des femelles chez les seules vierges peuvent être d’intérêt limité si la plupart des femelles ne demeurent pas vierges longtemps.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2010

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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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