Variation in developmental time affects mating success and Allee effects


  • Christelle Robinet,

  • Andrew Liebhold,

  • David Gray

C. Robinet (, INRA, UR633 Zoologie Forestière, Avenue de la Pomme de Pin, Ardon, FR-45166 Olivet, France. – CR and A. Liebhold, Northern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, 180 Canfield St., Morgantown, WV 26505, USA. – D. Gray, Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Atlantic Forestry Centre, 1350 Regent St., Fredericton, Canada, NB E3B 5P7.


A fundamental question in biological conservation and invasion biology is why do some populations go extinct? Allee effects, notably those caused by mate location failure, are potentially key factors leading to the extinction of sparse populations. Several previous studies have focused on the inability of males and females to locate each other in space when populations are at low densities but here we investigate the effects of differences in the timing of male and female maturation on mating success. We develop a generalized model to clarify the role of protandry (the appearance of males before female emergence) and variability in adult maturation times. We show that temporal asynchrony can substantially reduce the probability of successful mating. We then apply this generalized model to estimate mating success in invading populations of the gypsy moth in North America in relation to local climate and its associated seasonality. Considerable geographic heterogeneity was observed in simulated mating success and this variability was not correlated with previous evaluations of bioclimatic requirements and habitat suitability. Furthermore, we found that the generalized model of temporal asynchrony provided reliable predictions and that detailed modeling of gypsy moth development was not necessary.