Phenology of scramble polygyny in a wild population of chrysomelid beetles: the opportunity for and the strength of sexual selection [corrected]

PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e38315. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0038315. Epub 2012 Jun 25.


Recent debate has highlighted the importance of estimating both the strength of sexual selection on phenotypic traits, and the opportunity for sexual selection. We describe seasonal fluctuations in mating dynamics of Leptinotarsa undecimlineata (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). We compared several estimates of the opportunity for, and the strength of, sexual selection and male precopulatory competition over the reproductive season. First, using a null model, we suggest that the ratio between observed values of the opportunity for sexual selections and their expected value under random mating results in unbiased estimates of the actual nonrandom mating behavior of the population. Second, we found that estimates for the whole reproductive season often misrepresent the actual value at any given time period. Third, mating differentials on male size and mobility, frequency of male fighting and three estimates of the opportunity for sexual selection provide contrasting but complementary information. More intense sexual selection associated to male mobility, but not to male size, was observed in periods with high opportunity for sexual selection and high frequency of male fights. Fourth, based on parameters of spatial and temporal aggregation of female receptivity, we describe the mating system of L. undecimlineata as a scramble mating polygyny in which the opportunity for sexual selection varies widely throughout the season, but the strength of sexual selection on male size remains fairly weak, while male mobility inversely covaries with mating success. We suggest that different estimates for the opportunity for, and intensity of, sexual selection should be applied in order to discriminate how different behavioral and demographic factors shape the reproductive dynamic of populations.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Coleoptera
  • Female
  • Male
  • Marriage*
  • Mating Preference, Animal / physiology*
  • Phenotype
  • Reproduction / physiology*
  • Seasons
  • Selection, Genetic*
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology*