Adult sex ratios affect mating behaviour in the common housefly Musca domestica L. (Diptera; Muscidae)

Stefan ter Haar, Ljubinka Francuski, Jean-Christophe Billeter, Martijn A. Schenkel, Leo W. Beukeboom*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Adult sex ratio determines the level of mate availability and intrasexual competition for each sex. Sex ratio biases have been proposed to enhance the productivity of animal rearing procedures. However, behaviour may change in response to sex ratio manipulations that may counteract potential benefits. We investigated how sex ratios affected mating behaviour of the housefly Musca domestica, a species used in the animal feed industry. We hypothesized a reduced courtship effort and mating latency and increased ejaculate allocation (copulation duration) under male-biased sex ratios, whereas female-biased sex ratios would lead to the opposite effects. However, courtship effort was reduced in female-biased groups, implying reduced male harassment. Mating latency was lower and copulation lasted longer in female-biased groups, which may reduce reproduction time and increase female fecundity and lifespan. Our results indicate that in houseflies, female-biased sex ratios cause behavioural changes in both sexes that could positively contribute to reproductive output.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1329–1357
Number of pages29
JournalBehaviour
Volume160
Early online date23-Oct-2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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