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Keywords:

  • herbivory;
  • host shift;
  • intraguild predation;
  • kleptoparasitism;
  • mate choice;
  • reproductive isolation;
  • sympatric speciation;
  • vibrations

Changes in acoustic and substrate-borne sexual signals in phytophagous insects associated with host plant shifts are known to have the potential to promote assortative mating, reproductive isolation and speciation. In this article, we ask whether the switch between pure herbivory and intraguild predation (IGP), which is common amongst phytophagous insects, has similar potential. Male flies in the genus Lipara (Diptera: Chloropidae) search for females by vibrating reed stems and waiting for a reply. By kleptoparasitizing other phytophagous species in the genus (a form of IGP), Lipara rufitarsis can increase its nonsexual fitness considerably. We looked at the impact of IGP on the timing of hatching, body size and attractiveness of male calls in L. rufitarsis. L. rufitarsis males that had engaged in IGP hatched significantly earlier than purely phytophagous flies and were significantly larger, but their calls were less likely to elicit responses from females during playback experiments. We conclude that, although behavioural observations of females provided no evidence of ‘like preferring like’, changes in phenology associated with IGP are likely to promote assortative mating in this system. The general preference of females for the calls of smaller males is a phenomenon worthy of further study: it may have no adaptive significance, or it may indicate that mating with large males is associated with a fitness cost. © 2009 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2009, 98, 171–180.