When good mating systems go bad: understanding sexual mistakes
University of St Andrews, Scotland email@example.com
(Seminar in English)
Why do animals make sexual mistakes? For instance, why does same-sex sexual behaviour arise, or mating attempts with the wrong species, or even failure to successfully mate at all? Our understanding of how mating systems should evolve, and in turn shape the evolution of the diverse sexual traits we see around us, is based on our – often implicit – assumptions about how natural and sexual selection should act on sexual function. For instance, we typically expect strong selection on primary sexual function, drastically reducing episodes of infertility or mechanical incompatibility, as well as strong selection on secondary sexual function, to reduce erroneous mate choices for example. In this talk, I will discuss the mating biology of Lygaeus seedbugs, a group of species that exhibit striking levels of mating failure (driven primarily by a failure of sperm transfer) and reproductive interference (heterospecific mating interactions). Our work on these unexpected sexual phenotypes throws new light on old questions in mating systems theory, and encourages us to explore new ways of thinking about how evolution shapes sexual behaviour.
Shuker, D.M. & Burdfield-Steel, E.R. (2017) Reproductive interference in insects. Ecological Entomology, 42 (Suppl. 1): 65-75.
Greenway, E.V., Balfour, V.L. & Shuker, D.M. (2017) Can females choose to avoid mating failure in the seed bug Lygaeus simulans? Animal Behaviour, 129: 61-69
Dougherty, L.R., Simmons, L.W. & Shuker, D.M. (2016) Post-copulatory sexual selection when a female mates once. Animal Behaviour, 116: 13-16.
Greenway, E.V. & Shuker, D.M. (2015) The repeatability of mating failure in a polyandrous insect. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 28: 1578-1582.
Shuker, D.M., Currie, N., Hoole, T. & Burdfield-Steel, E.R. (2015) The extent and costs of reproductive interference among four species of true bug. Population Ecology, 57: 321-331.