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Data for: Sex pheromone signal and stability covary with fitness

Cite this dataset

Blankers, Thomas; Lievers, Rik; van Wijk, Michiel; Groot, Astrid (2021). Data for: Sex pheromone signal and stability covary with fitness [Dataset]. Dryad.


If sexual signals are costly, covariance between signal expression and fitness is expected. Signal-fitness covariance is important, because it can contribute to the maintenance of genetic variation in signals that are under natural or sexual selection. Chemical signals, such as female sex pheromones in moths, have traditionally been assumed to be species-recognition signals, but their relationship with fitness is unclear. Here we test whether chemical, conspecific mate finding signals covary with fitness in the moth Heliothis subflexa. Additionally, as moth signals are synthesized de novo every night, the maintenance of the signal can be costly. Therefore, we also hypothesized that fitness covaries with signal stability (i.e., lack of temporal intra-individual variation). We measured among- and within-individual variation in pheromone characteristics as well as fecundity, fertility, and life span in two independent groups that differed in the time in between two pheromone samples. In both groups, we found fitness to be correlated with pheromone amount, composition, and stability, supporting both our hypotheses. This study is the first to report a correlation between fitness and sex pheromone composition in moths, supporting evidence of condition-dependence and highlighting how signal-fitness covariance may contribute to heritable variation in chemical signals both among and within individuals.


European Commission, Award: 794254

National Science Foundation

National Science Foundation, Award: IOS-1052238

Dutch Research Council

Dutch Research Council, Award: 822.01.012