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Fake news? The impact of cue mismatch in mating behaviour
  • Leonor Rodrigues,
  • Sara Magalhaes
Leonor Rodrigues
Centre for Ecology Evolution and Environmental Changes
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Sara Magalhaes
Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa

Corresponding Author:snmagalhaes@fc.ul.pt

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Although the role of multiple cues in mate choice have been widely studied, the consequences thereof for receivers remain poorly understood, especially when there is a mismatch between cues. We address this using the spider mite Tetranychus urticae, in which virgin females are highly valuable mates compared to mated females, given first male sperm precedence. We tested how the presence of females of different mating status, and of cues they left in the substrate affected mating behaviour as well as male costs. Male mating attempts were solely affected by substrate cues, being more frequent on patches with cues of virgins, while female acceptance and number of mating events were independently affected by both female identity and substrate cues, being higher when cues stemmed from virgins. Once copulation started, its duration depended mainly on the mating status of the female being fertilized, with the overall amount of time spent mating being higher in matings with virgins than in those with mated females. Male survival costs mirrored their investment in mating, with patches with a mismatch between cues showing intermediate survival costs. The substrate cues left by females are thus instrumental for males to find their mates, but they can also lead to males paying a high survival cost while not reaping the benefit of mating effectively, which suggest they are less reliable but more efficient than cues on females. The benefit of using redundant cues will then hinge upon the frequency of mismatch between cues, which itself should vary with the dynamics of populations.