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A reply to Nieberding and Holveck: beyond experimental design and proximate mechanisms - mate choice in the face of sexual conflict

Fischer, Klaus; Karl, Isabell; Dublon, Ian A. N.; Kehl, Tobias


We summarise our work on male mating behaviour in the tropical butterfly Bicyclus anynana, responding to the commentary provided by Nieberding and Holveck. We acknowledge that our laboratory studies are not free of shortcomings and potential caveats, though we attempted to address or highlight these within each paper. The concerns raised seem to stem mainly from different notions with respect to the proximate basis of old male mating advantage, and specifically the relative importance of male behaviour versus pheromone blend. In our view, our experiments provided compelling evidence for a prominent role of male behaviour, while we were unable to obtain clear evidence for a major role of male sexual pheromones. In addition to the lack of evidence we argue that a preference of females for older males based on pheromone blend is unlikely, as pheromone titres do not seem to indicate male quality and, more importantly, females actually suffer a fitness cost when mating with older males. The latter suggests that old male mating advantage arises from sexual conflict rather than cooperation. We thus highlight the importance of considering both the proximate and the ultimate level for gaining an integrative understanding of complex behavioural patterns.


Bicyclus anynana; Courtship behaviour; Female mate choice; Honest signal; Lepidoptera; Male sex pheromone; Mating success; Residual reproductive value; Sexual conflict; Experimental constraints

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Frontiers in Zoology
2018, Volym: 15, artikelnummer: 19Utgivare: BIOMED CENTRAL LTD

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