Royal Society Publishing

The evolution of sex differences in mate searching when females benefit: new theory and a comparative test

J. McCartney, H. Kokko, K.-G. Heller, D. T. Gwynne


Sexual selection is thought to have led to searching as a profitable, but risky way of males obtaining mates. While there is great variation in which sex searches, previous theory has not considered search evolution when both males and females benefit from multiple mating. We present new theory and link it with data to bridge this gap. Two different search protocols exist between species in the bush-cricket genus Poecilimon (Orthoptera): females search for calling males, or males search for calling females. Poecilimon males also transfer a costly nuptial food gift to their mates during mating. We relate variations in searching protocols to variation in nuptial gift size among 32 Poecilimon taxa. As predicted, taxa where females search produce significantly larger nuptial gifts than those where males search. Our model and results show that search roles can reverse when multiple mating brings about sufficiently strong material benefits to females.

  • Received July 17, 2011.
  • Accepted September 9, 2011.
View Full Text