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Seasonal Variation in Mate Choice of Photinus ignitus Fireflies


Christopher K. Cratsley, Department of Biology, Fitchburg State College, 160 Pearl Street, Fitchburg, MA 01420, USA. E-mail:


Mate choice by either sex may vary with changes in the associated costs and benefits, determined by factors such as the availability of potential mates and variation in mate quality. We examined seasonal variation in operational sex ratio, courtship behavior, spermatophore mass, egg count, and the relationship between morphological traits and mating success in Photinus ignitus fireflies to determine if mate choice in either sex varied with the availability and relative reproductive investment of fertilizable females and sexually active males. Successfully mating males had larger lanterns than unsuccessful males when the operational sex ratio was male-biased. In addition, female responsiveness to male signals increased as the number of courting males decreased, and male spermatophore mass decreased with body size across the mating season. Successfully mating females had larger body mass than unsuccessful females. Female body mass predicted egg count and female rejection by males increased as the season progressed and female size decreased. These results suggest that both male and female P. ignitus exhibit mate choice, and that such choice is influenced by seasonal variation in the abundance and quality of potential mates.