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Testing the role of same-sex sexual behaviour in the evolution of alternative male reproductive phenotypes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Male same-sex sexual behaviour (SSB), where males court or attempt to mate with other males, is common among animal taxa. Recent studies have examined its fitness costs and benefits in attempts to understand its evolutionary maintenance, but the evolutionary consequences of SSB are less commonly considered. One potential impact of SSB might be to facilitate the evolution of traits associated with less sexually dimorphic males, such as alternative reproductive tactics, by diverting costly aggression from other males. To test this, we capitalized on the recent rapid spread of a silent male morph of the field cricket, Teleogryllus oceanicus, which is unable to produce characteristic male acoustic signals, benefits from satellite mating behaviour and has feminized appearance and cuticular hydrocarbon profiles. We tested the prediction that interactions involving these nonsignalling, less sexually dimorphic male morphs would show heightened rates of SSB, which could reduce the strength of male–male competition and permit greater access to females. We found no evidence that SSB was more common in trials involving silent males. Instead, SSB was predicted by courtship of females presented during a pretrial treatment. Our results provide evidence supporting the view that SSB represents a spillover of sexually selected courtship behaviour in a nonadaptive context, but do not support a strong role for SSB in the evolution of less ornamented males in this system.
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-11
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Volume157
Early online date21 Sep 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

    Research areas

  • Alternative reproductive tactics, Behavioural syndrome, Field cricket, Non-adaptive behaviour, Same-sex sexual behaviour, SSB, Teleogryllus oceanicus

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