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Keywords:

  • Lepidoptera;
  • foraging strategy;
  • mud puddling;
  • sexual dimorphism;
  • nuptial gifts

Abstract. 1. Foraging effort can vary among age classes and between the sexes. In many Lepidoptera, young males feed from mud, dung or carrion in a behaviour known as ‘puddling’, whereas females rarely puddle. In at least one species, males transfer sodium gained from puddling to females at mating for use in egg production.

2. Here we examine sex- and age-specific puddling patterns in seven montane butterfly species. We also test the hypothesis that among species in which young males predominate at puddles, differences in age- and sex-specific puddling patterns for a given species are related to mean female lifetime mating numbers.

3. For five species, young males fed proportionately more at puddles than other sex and age classes. Two species showed anomalous feeding patterns. In one, young females predominated at puddles; in the other, butterflies were rarely found at flowers.

4. As predicted, among the five species in which young males feed proportionately more at puddles, mean number of lifetime matings by females was negatively correlated with frequency of mud puddling by older females. A second prediction that mean number of lifetime matings by females is positively correlated with frequency of mud puddling by older males was not supported.

5. The results provide support for interspecific variation in division of responsibility between the sexes for resource acquisition for female reproduction, indicating close coordination between the sexes of foraging and life-history tactics.