Male approach and mating behavior in response to varying levels of risk in a sexually cannibalistic praying mantid (#710)
Precopulatory cannibalism is an extreme form of sexual conflict because it has the potential to eliminate all current and future reproductive successes for males. Several female factors such as body condition, mating status and orientation may impact the frequency of sexual cannibalism, and males are predicted to respond to these factors by altering their approach behaviours in ways that avoid being attacked by females. We used the sexually cannibalistic praying mantid Pseudomantis albofimbriata to test if and how different female risk factors of cannibalism affect male approach and mating behaviour. We created three different risk treatments by manipulating female body condition, mating status and orientation and recorded the occurrence of cannibalism and male approaching and mating behaviours. Female body condition and mating status had the greatest impact on the frequency of cannibalism, with previously mated females in poor body condition showing the highest rate of male consumption. Although front mounting males were cannibalised more often than rear mounted males, the difference was not statistically significant. Furthermore, actual mating success for cannibalised males was significantly less than for non-cannibalised males. From the three treatments, only female body condition had a significant effect on mating success, with males who approached low condition females having significantly lower mating success. Surprisingly, males did not alter their approach behaviour or copulation duration in response to any of these female risk factors. These results suggest that female condition has the highest impact on sexual cannibalism in this system. However, it also suggests that males do not alter their approach/mating behaviours in response to any of the risk factors of sexual cannibalism in sequential mating scenario. Future studies that investigate the effect of sexual cannibalism on postcopulatory male mating strategies will provide better clarification for the sex-based costs and benefits of sexual cannibalism in this system.