Operational sex ratio versus gender density as determinants of copulation duration in the walnut fly, Rhagoletis juglandis (Diptera: Tephritidae)

Henar Alonso-Pimentel, Daniel R. Papaj

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

65 Scopus citations

Abstract

In laboratory and field studies of the walnut fly, Rhagoletis juglandis Cresson (Diptera: Tephritidae), we assessed the effect of operational sex ratio on copulation duration and partitioned the sex ratio effect into component effects due to male density and female density. In our first laboratory experiment, results were clearly consistent with theoretical expectation: increases in male density were associated with significant increases in copulation duration while increases in female density were associated with significant decreases in copulation duration. These component effects yielded a striking composite effect of operational sex ratio (OSR) on copulation duration in which male-biased ratios were associated with low frequencies of short copulations and female-biased ratios were associated with high frequencies of short copulations. Consistent with a priori expectations concerning costs of territorial behavior, the effect of male density on copulation duration was stronger than that of female density. There was no significant interaction between the effects of gender density on copulation duration: each gender density contributed additively to the composite OSR effect on copulation duration. In contrast to the effect of OSR, overall density had little effect. Field data corroborated these findings fully and showed additionally that OSR in the vicinity of fruit tended in nature to be male-biased. In a second laboratory experiment, we measured copulation duration for individuals exposed alternately to male-biased and female-biased ratios. Individual flies consistently copulated for longer in male-biased environments than in female-biased ones. We propose that this plasticity permits individuals to track changes in local sex ratio over space and time and respond appropriately.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-180
Number of pages10
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Volume39
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996

Keywords

  • Copulation duration
  • Density
  • Mating systems
  • Rhagoletis
  • Sex ratio

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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