Sexual History Affects Mating Behavior and Mate Choice in the Crayfish Orconectes limosus



Because mating entails both costs and potential benefits to both sexes, males and females should be under selection to make optimal choices from among available potential mates. For example, in some cases, individuals may benefit by using information on potential mates' previous sexual histories to make mate choices. In such cases, the form and direction of these benefits may vary both between the sexes and based on the sexual history of the choosing individuals themselves. We investigated the effects of recent previous sexual history on the mate choice and mating behavior of both males and females of the crayfish Orconectes limosus. In one experiment, we found that opposite-sex dyads comprising crayfish that had both mated 7–8 d previously with other conspecifics were significantly less likely to mate than dyads in which at least one crayfish was unmated. In a second experiment, we found that, when presented with a choice of tethered (but free to move) opposite-sex conspecifics, only virgin females discriminated between males based on sexual history, showing a preference for virgin males over recently mated males. Mated females, mated males, and virgin males showed no preferences based on the sexual histories of potential mates. We discuss the implications of these inferences in the context of what was previously known about mating behavior and potential sperm limitation in crustaceans and other taxa.