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Male competition reverses female preference for male chemical cues

Cite this dataset

Mitchem, Lisa (2022). Male competition reverses female preference for male chemical cues [Dataset]. Dryad.


Females must choose among potential mates with different phenotypes in a variety of social contexts. Many male traits are inherent and unchanging, but others are labile to social context. Competition, for example, can cause physiological changes that reflect recent wins and losses which fluctuate throughout time. We may expect females to respond differently to males depending on the outcome of their most recent fight. In Bolitotherus cornutus (forked fungus beetles), males compete for access to females, but copulation requires female cooperation. In this study we use behavioural trials to determine if females use chemical cues to differentiate between males and if the outcome of recent male competition alters female preference. We measured female association time with chemical cues of two size-matched males both before and after male-male competition. Females in our study preferred to associate with future losers before males interacted, but changed their preference for realized winners following male competitive interactions. Our study provides the first evidence of change in female preference based solely on the outcome of male-male competition.