SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Abstract

The mating system of Tegrodera aloga is similar to other blister beetles that have evolved sizeassortative mating in that males pass a cantharidin-rich spermatophore to their mates and females vary in size and fecundity. Despite this, previous studies found no assortative mating in this beetle. Results of this study suggest that nonassortative mating is not due to absolute constraints on mate choice. Males courted large females more frequently than small females, suggesting that males prefer big mates. Similarly, female choice is suggested by a large-male mating advantage in the absence of size-related male-male competition. In contrast to previous work, my results suggest that assortative mating may occur under certain conditions and may be due to large-phenotype mating advantages. The question remains, why does assortative mating occur only some of the time? One hypothesis is that assortative mating breaks down when sex ratios become male biased and males no longer discriminate between mates. However, although sex ratios can vary from day to day, assortative mating is not associated with periods when females outnumber males. Rather, the pattern appears to be associated with times of low overall population density. Hypotheses for density-dependent assortative mating are presented.