Mate discrimination by females in the burying beetle Nicrophorus orbicollis: The influence of male size on attractiveness to females

Andria E. Beeler, Claudia M. Rauter, Allen J. Moore

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22 Scopus citations


1. Female burying beetles behave differently towards males of different sizes, avoiding mating with large males that are not defending resources but mating with small males regardless of the presence of resources. Females of the burying beetle Nicrophorus orbicollis were therefore examined to determine whether they discriminate among males using only pheromonal signals. The influence of female size on its own mate choice was also examined. 2. Females do use male pheromonal signals to discriminate among males and these signals do appear to convey information about male body size to females. Overall, females were more likely to be attracted to larger males than to smaller males. 3. Female choice of a male was influenced by both the female's own body size and the size of the female relative to the size of the two males available to it. 4. While there is an overall mating advantage for larger males, resulting from female preferences based on odour cues, smaller males are also attractive to some females under some circumstances. 5. It is argued that there are different costs and benefits of mating with different sized males, leading to the evolution of context-dependent mate choice for females and the need to be able to discriminate males of different sizes from a distance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalEcological Entomology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 26 2002



  • Mate choice
  • Parental care
  • Pheromone
  • Sexual selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Insect Science

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