Royal Society Publishing

Balancing sexual selection through opposing mate choice and male competition

Allen J. Moore , Patricia J. Moore


Male–male competition and female mate choice act contemporaneously in the cockroach Nauphoeta cinerea and the social pheromone of males influences the outcome of both forms of sexual selection. We therefore examined the joint and separate effects of male–male competition and female mate choice to determine if the selective optima for the pheromone were the same or different. Dominant males in a newly established hierarchy mated more frequently, but not exclusively. Manipulations of the multi–component social pheromone produced by males of N. cinerea showed that both long– and close–range attraction of females by males were influenced by the quantity and composition of the pheromone. The most attractive composition, however, differed from that which was most likely to confer high status to males. Since the outcome of male–male competition can conflict with mating preferences exhibited by females, there is balancing sexual selection on the social pheromone of N. cinerea. Such balancing selection might act to maintain genetic variation in sexually selected traits. We suggest that the different forms of sexual selection conflict in N. cinerea because females prefer a blend different to that which is most effective in male–male competition in order to avoid mating with overly aggressive males.