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Abstract

In species that demonstrate female choice, geographically distinct populations can vary in their signal-response behaviors as a result of environmental differences or genetic drift. Observing whether or not females discriminate against males from allopatric populations can establish such signal deviations. Here we compare mating success within and between populations of the spotted cucumber beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata howardi) collected from Delaware, Tennessee, Missouri, and New Mexico, USA. A no-choice cross-mating experiment was employed to measure female preference for sympatric and allopatric males. While only two of the populations (Tennessee and Missouri) demonstrated statistically significant female preference for sympatric males, this trend was observed in all populations tested. Further, we show that (i) males from Tennessee, Missouri, and New Mexico differ in their scent, (ii) females may use population-specific scents to discriminate among males, and (iii) females whose antennae have been surgically removed are unable to recognize acceptable mates. New Mexico males, which were never accepted by either Tennessee or Missouri females, became acceptable mates when crowded with Tennessee or Missouri males prior to copulation. We infer that male odor may be an important factor in determining cucumber beetle mating success.