Royal Society Publishing

Intrasexual mounting in the beetle Diaprepes abbreviatus (L.)

Ally R Harari, H. Jane Brockmann, Peter. J Landolt

Abstract

The weevil Diaprepes abbreviatus shows three kinds of same–sex mountings: males mount other unpaired males, males mount males already engaged in copulation and females mount other females. Four hypotheses were evaluated in order to explain same–sex matings by males: (i) female mimicry by inferior males, (ii) dominance of larger males which affects the behaviour of small males, (iii) sperm transfer in which smaller males gain some reproductive success by ‘hitchhiking’ their sperm with the sperm of larger males, and (iv) poor sex recognition. Data from mate choice and sperm competition experiments rejected the female mimicry, dominance and sperm transfer hypotheses and supported the poor sex recognition hypothesis. We tested three hypotheses in order to explain female mounting behaviour: (i) females mimic male behaviour in order to reduce sexual harassment by males, (ii) females mount other females in order to appear larger and thereby attract more and larger males for mating, and (iii) female mimicry of males. The results of our mate choice experiments suggested that the female mimicry of males hypothesis best explains the observed female mounting behaviour. This result is also consistent with the poor sex recognition hypothesis which is the most likely explanation for male and female intrasexual mating behaviour in many insect species.

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