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Density-dependent mating behaviors reduce male mating harassment in locusts

Maeno K.O., Piou C., Ould Ely S., Ould Mohamed S.A., Jaavar M.E.H., Ghaout S., Babah Ebbe M.A.O.. 2021. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118 (42) : 10 p..

DOI: 10.6084/m9.figshare.16640113

DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2104673118

Male mating harassment may occur when females and males do not have the same mating objectives. Communal animals need to manage the costs of male mating harassment. Here, we demonstrate how desert locusts in dense populations reduce such conflicts through behaviors. In transient populations (of solitarious morphology but gregarious behavior), we found that nongravid females occupied separate sites far from males and were not mating, whereas males aggregated on open ground (leks), waiting for gravid females to enter the lekking sites. Once a male mounted a gravid female, no other males attacked the pair; mating pairs were thereby protected during the vulnerable time of oviposition. In comparison, solitarious locusts displayed a balanced sex ratio in low-density populations, and females mated irrespective of their ovarian state. Our results indicate that the mating behaviors of desert locusts are density dependent and that sex-biased behavioral group separation may minimize the costs of male mating harassment and competition.

Mots-clés : comportement sexuel; schistocerca gregaria; Écologie animale; sex ratio; comportement animal; Écologie des populations; accouplement; acrididae; mauritanie; désert du sahara

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