Mating has opposite effects on male and female sexually selected cuticular hydrocarbons
Creators:Gershman, Susan N.
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In Drosophila serrata flies, there is female choice for male cuticular hydrocarbon (CHC) profiles and male choice for female CHC profiles. Furthermore, both males and females can alter their CHCs: when there is more opportunity for mating, males express combinations of CHCs preferred by females; however, females appear to change CHC profiles to avoid male harassment. In this study, I investigate the effect of number of matings (0–4) on male and female sexually selected CHCs. Mating caused males to express CHCs associated with higher male mating success. Thus, successfully mating males are likely to have increased future mating success. Conversely, females that mated more times expressed CHC profiles that were associated with lower female mating success. Females maximized their offspring production by mating more than once, but additional matings did not provide additional benefits. Furthermore, number of matings did not affect female survival. In total, these results suggest that females alter CHC expression to discourage male courtship when additional matings are not beneficial. In conclusion, plasticity in male and female CHC expression can both increase variance in male mating success and decrease variance in female mating success, driving the evolution of sexually selected chemical signals.
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