The time dedicated to courtship and copulation is the most general cost of mating for females. However, quantitative estimates of this cost and the consequences for female mating behavior have been investigated for only a few model organisms, and mostly under laboratory conditions. We determined the costs of copulations and persistent courtship by males in terms of time for females of the solitary bee Anthrenoides micans. We estimated the rate and duration of male mating behaviors and the consequences for sexual interactions for females with respect to the loss of foraging opportunity in the wild. Males invested most of their time searching for mates and intercepted foraging females every three minutes. Copulas lasted on average 10 times longer than the time females took to resist male mating attempts. Despite the high frequency of these rejections (82%), females spent three-fold more time copulating than rejecting males. Considering the rate of encounters with males and the mean duration of flower visits by females, we estimated that females would perform 64% fewer flower visits/hour if they accepted all copulation attempts. The loss of time is especially significant in the natural habitat of the species, where host cacti blossom for extraordinary short periods of time and females compete with other cacti-specialized bees and conspecifics. Because the offspring production of a female solitary bee depends on its pollen collection capacity, reduced foraging performance directly influences female reproductive success.
We analyzed video recordings and made direct observations of bees in the field.
Fundação Grupo Boticário de Proteção à Natureza, Award: 1095_20171
Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico, Award: 311935/2018-4
Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior