The relation between male body size, fighting, and mating success in Dawson's burrowing bee, Amegilla dawsoni (Apidae, Apinae, Anthophorini)

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Abstract

Males of the bee Amegilla dawsoni (Anthophorini) vary greatly in size, with some of the largest individuals as large as the largest females, a rare phenomenon in insects. The occurrence of unusually large males appears to be the product of sexual selection for fighting ability. As predicted from this hypothesis: (1) males regularly competed aggressively to be in the best position to mount sexually receptive, virgin females as they emerged from the ground; (2) larger males usually won fights for potential mates, as demonstrated by the fact that males able to defend sites with an emerging female were larger on average than males they kept at bay; (3) the fighting advantage of large males translated into greater mating success. Males captured while mounted on a female were significantly larger on average than randomly captured matesearching males in two of three populations sampled in 1993. Moreover, males known to mate more than once were consistently larger than single-mating males in the 10 samples taken from four populations examined in 1994. Thus, a large male mating advantage applies across years and among populations, making it potentially advantageous for females of Dawson's burrowing bees to produce large, superior fighting sons about the same size as their daughters.

Ancillary