Male Distribution and Mate Searching in the Yellow Dung Fly Scathophaga stercoraria: Comparison between Paired and Unpaired Males


Department of Zoology, Uppsala University, Villavägen 9, S-752 36 Uppsala, Sweden


Movements by individual males were examined in the yellow dung fly, Scathophaga stercoraria. Males were observed from their arrival until they found a female (paired males) or departed (unpaired males). The focal variables were the male mating status, body size and the number of males and females at the site. Paired males, independent of size, spent more time in the best mate-searching area (pat and the first up-wind zone) than unpaired males. Paired males in all size classes moved around and attacked other males more often than unpaired males. Among paired males, males that caught a single female and those that took over a female from another male were very similar in their mate-searching behaviour. The total time spent searching at the pat was positively related to its resource value as indicated by the number of pairs. Time spent in the best mate-searching area was negatively related with male numbers. The causes of differences in movements and aggression between paired and unpaired males are discussed. The male distribution around cow pats can be understood only if the differences in movement patterns by paired and unpaired males are taken into account.