Discriminative mate choice in relation with female maturation in Ischnura elegans (Odonata: Coenagrionidae)


It is often assumed that males do not choose among females because competition for partners is high and male mating costs are low. Nevertheless, this assumption does not always hold. In some species duration of copulation is long, possibly causing a limitation on the lifetime number of matings for males. In this case we expect males to discriminate among females differing in quality. We first discuss quality differences between immature and mature females. Second, we test whether males of the zygopteran Ischnura elegans discriminate between immature and mature females. The hypothesis was examined by performing binary choice experiments in small cages in three different populations. To examine possible mechanisms for discrimination we excluded behavioural differences in one of the two experiments by using dead females. The results show that males of I. elegans prefer mature to immature females and that this choice is probably based upon a difference in body coloration.

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