Data from: Exaggerated male legs increase mating success by reducing disturbance to females in the cave wētā Pachyrhamma waitomoensis
Fea, Murray; Holwell, Gregory I. (2018), Data from: Exaggerated male legs increase mating success by reducing disturbance to females in the cave wētā Pachyrhamma waitomoensis, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.kh16d4k
Mate guarding is a widespread behaviour resulting from sperm competition and conflict over optimal remating rates. It is a key way in which males exhibit differential mating investment, and represents a complex interplay between mating effort, intrasexual competition, opportunity costs and sexual conflict. Nevertheless, although there are many examples of exaggerated male structures used to fight rivals, few animals have developed specialised male morphological adaptations for directly sheltering females from disturbance by non-rivals. Here we report on the use of sexually dimorphic, elongated male hind-legs, which are used to guard females in the New Zealand cave wētā Pachyrhamma waitomoensis (Orthoptera: Rhaphidophoridae). We found that male hind-legs alongside the female failed to deter rivals from accessing her or disrupting copulation. However, they did reduce the disturbance to females from other, non-rival animals such as juveniles and heterospecifics. Males with longer hind legs were more effective in reducing disturbance, and remained with females for longer. Longer guarding periods also led to higher numbers of matings between pairs. Models of males with artificially altered hind-leg dimensions also showed a benefit to greater leg-length, and artificially altering the disturbance rate to females also had a significant effect on pair duration. Our results indicate that nuisance disturbance to females may play an important role in driving sexual selection on male leg length and its exaggeration in this species.
New Zealand Waitomo