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Data from: A costly chemical trait: phenotypic condition dependence of cuticular hydrocarbons in a dung beetle

Citation

Berson, Jacob D.; Simmons, Leigh W. (2018), Data from: A costly chemical trait: phenotypic condition dependence of cuticular hydrocarbons in a dung beetle, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.bs154q0

Abstract

Chemical traits are increasingly recognised as important cues used in mate choice. For example, the cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) of insects have been shown to influence mating success in a range of taxa. Less is known, however, about how CHCs are expressed in proportion to an individual’s condition, and consequently whether CHCs can function as condition dependent signals of quality. We investigated this question using the dung beetle, Onthophagus taurus. CHCs are subject to sexual selection in this species through mate choice. A dietary manipulation revealed condition dependence of CHC expression for both sexes: dietary restriction decreased overall CHC production and altered the composition of CHCs. Furthermore, CHC production was associated with a measure of condition in beetles fed a limited diet but not those fed ad libitum. These results implicate a resource cost to CHC production that is likely to result in trade-offs with other fitness components in this species, as these respond similarly to a dietary restriction. The CHC profiles showed sexual dimorphism: males produced more CHCs and the sexes differed in the blend of compounds they produced. There was evidence for a male dimorphism in the CHC profile, in line with the presence of the alternative reproductive tactics (minor sneaks and major fighters) in this species. However, rather than mimicking a female CHC profile, minor males differed more from females than major males. Our results suggest that CHCs are a costly trait in O. taurus that has the potential to act as a condition dependent signal of quality.

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