Risk trading in mating behavior: forgoing anti-predatorresponses reduces the likelihood of missing terminalmating opportunities

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2010
Authors:Lafaille, Bimbard, Greenfield
Journal:Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Start Page:1485

Life history theory predicts that organisms make certain adjustments to their current and future reproductive effort such that fitness is maximized. Moreover, these adjustments may be fine tuned in response to risks of attack by natural enemies. Thus, we may predict that as an organism ages it will accept increasing levels of exposure to predators during mating activities, effectively trading the risk of losing terminal mating opportunities for the risk of predation. We tested this prediction in an acoustic moth, Achroia grisella, in which females orient toward and evaluate males based on their ultrasonic calling song, and both sexes may be vulnerable to predation by insectivorous bats while in flight as well as on the substrate. In the latter situation, singing males and orienting females show silence and arrestment responses, respectively, when presented with synthetic bat echolocation signals broadcast above a threshold amplitude. We found that both males and females become less sensitive to these broadcasts over the course of their brief reproductive periods, 7 and 5 days, respectively. Over the same periods, sensitivity to male song in both males and females remains constant, and relatively little senescence in sexual behavior is observed. These results support the risk trading hypothesis, and they indicate that life history principles may apply over a very short lifespan.

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Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith