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Fake news? The impact of information mismatch in mating behaviour
  • Leonor Rodrigues,
  • Sara Magalhaes
Leonor Rodrigues
Centre for Ecology Evolution and Environmental Changes

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Sara Magalhaes
Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa
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Multiple cues are often used for mate choice in complex environments, potentially entailing mismatches between different sources of information. We address the consequences thereof for receivers using the spider mite Tetranychus urticae, in which virgin females are highly valuable mates compared to mated females, given first male sperm precedence. Accordingly, males prefer virgins and distinguish them using cues from the females and/or that are present on the substrate. Whereas the former are more reliable, the latter may allow for a faster or more long-distance response. However, there can be mismatched information between cues as females move and/or mate. Here, we tested the consequences thereof by exposing males to mated or virgin females on patches previously impregnated with cues deposited by females of either mating status. Male mating attempts were solely affected by substrate cues while female acceptance and the number of mating events were independently affected by both cues. Copulation duration, in contrast, depended mainly on the mating status of the female, with the number of copulations and the total time spent mating being intermediate in environments with mismatched information. Ultimately, male survival costs mirrored male investment in mating. These results suggest that, in environments with mismatched information, the substrate cues left by females are instrumental for males to find their mates, but they can also lead to males paying survival costs without the associated benefit of mating effectively, or suffering reduced costs at the expense of losing effective mating opportunities. The benefit of using multiple cues will then hinge upon the frequency of information mismatch, which itself should vary with the dynamics of populations.
04 Feb 2024Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
05 Feb 2024Assigned to Editor
05 Feb 2024Submission Checks Completed
05 Feb 2024Reviewer(s) Assigned