Effect of age on female choice in the field cricket, Gryllus interger
Prosser, Melaine Renee.
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Female choice is an important element of sexual selection that may vary among females of the same species. Few researchers have investigated the causes of variation in selectivity with respect to potential mates and overall level of motivation toward a stimulus source representative of a mate. This study demonstrates that female age may be one cause of variation in female choice. Females of different ages may have different mate preferences. As females age, they have less time left to reproduce, and their residual reproductive value decreases. This should correspond to a higher reproductive effort which may be represented as increased motivation and/or decreased selectivity. The effect of age on mate choice in Gryllus integer was investigated by using a non-compensating treadmill, called the Kugel, to measure female phonotaxis. Artificially generated male calling songs of varying pulse rates were broadcast in either a singlestimulus or a three-stimulus experimental design. The pulse rates used in the calling song stimuli were 70, 64, 76, 55 and 85 pulses per second. These corresponded to the documented mean pulse rate for the species at the experimental temperature, one standard deviation below and above the mean, and 2.5 standard deviations below and above the mean, respectively. Test females were either 11-14 days or 25-28 days post-ecdysis. Trials usually were conducted two to seven hours into the scotophase. In the single-stimulus experiment, females were presented with stimuli with only one pulse rate. Older females achieved higher vector scores than younger females, indicating that older females are more motivated to mate. Both groups showed little phonotactic response towards 55 or 85 pIs, both of which lie outside the natural range of G. integer calling song at the experimental temperature. Neither group discriminated among the three pulse rates that fell within the natural range of calling song. In the three-stimulus experiment, females were presented with stimuli with one of three pulse rates, 64, 70 or 76 pIs, In alternation. Both age groups had reduced responsiveness in this experiment, perhaps due to an increase in perceived male density. Additionally, younger females responded significantly more to 64 and 70 pIs than to the higher pulse rate, indicating that they are selective with respect to mate choice. Older females did not discriminate among the three pulse rates. Therefore, it was concluded that selectivity decreases with age. A further study was conducted to determine that these effects were due to age and not due to the differing periods without a mating between the two age groups. Again, stimuli were presented in a three-stimulus experimental design. Age was held constant at 28 days and time since last mating varied from 11 to 25 days. Females varyIng in time since last mating did not differ in their responses to the calling song pulse rates. This indicated that the increased motivation and decreased selectivity exhibited In the initial experiments were due to age and not to time without a mating. Neither time of trial nor female weight had an effect upon female phonotaxis. Data are discussed in terms of mate choice, residual reproductive value, and costs of choice.