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Behavioral data for: Effect of experience on mating behaviour in male Heliconius melpomene butterflies

Cite this dataset

Westerman, Erica; Rather, Peyton; Herzog, Abigail; Ernst, David (2021). Behavioral data for: Effect of experience on mating behaviour in male Heliconius melpomene butterflies [Dataset]. Dryad.


This is the data file that corresponds to "Effect of experience on mating behavior in male Heliconius melpomene butterflies" by P.A. Rather, A.E. Herzog, D.A. Ernst, & E.L. Westerman, published in Animal Behaviour. It contains two spreadsheets, one with all the mating outcome data, and one with the corresponding behavioral data for the training and testing assays. Due to electrical issues with the data recording device during some of our assays, we do not have behavioral data, other than courtship and time to courtship (which were recorded both electronically and by hand) for all our assays, though we do have complete behavioral data for most of our assays. In our study, we show that H. melpomene males who have been previously exposed to a female but did not mate during that prior exposure are less likely to court during a second exposure than a naive male of the same age. This effect appears to be driven by H. m. malleti males, as H. m. malleti males exhibited a strong response to the exposure, while H. m. rosina males did not.


These data were collected during observations of training and testing no-choice assays of Heliconius melpomene malleti and Heliconius melpomene rosina butterflies. Here we report the raw data for the no choice assays, with one spreadsheet for mating outcome and one spreadsheet for the full behavioral data of males and females.

Usage notes

Due to the nature of the data analysis program used, cells in the "Time to Court", "CourtedBefore", "Time to Court-Mins", "Exp/Naive", "Notes", and "Male future court" columns that would be NA in R are left blank. Those are not missing data. However, butterfly numbers that are blank are missing, as are blank cells in the "phenotype", "watch", and "female Type" columns in the Behavioral Data from Watches sheet. We include these data because they support our claim in the manuscript that butterflies were active during the training and testing periods, even though these watches correspond to assays that did not end up being included in the final data set due to the death of the male between training or testing.