Male mating preference in an ixodid tick

Gerardo Fracasso, Dieter Heylen, Erik Matthysen

    Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review

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    Abstract

    Background: Mate choice is a fundamental element of sexual selection and has the potential to shape the evolution of traits. Mate choice based on body size has been shown to be a common trait in several arthropod species. In hard ticks, a taxon of medical and veterinary importance, engorgement weight is positively correlated with reproductive output but it is unknown whether adult males show mate choice. Here, we experimentally investigated whether males (i) use chemical cues to choose their mating partner, (ii) consistently choose for the same female individual and (iii) prefer females with highest weight after feeding.

    Methods: We used two experimental setups which allowed chemical communication between ticks: (i) a horizontal tube preventing physical contact with the female and (ii) an arena where tactile cues were allowed. In total, we tested 62 different triads in 124 tests (66 tests in the horizontal tube and 58 in the arena) composed of one male that could choose between two engorged females. Specifically, we tested 42 triads in the tube and 46 in the arena; 24 triads were repeatedly tested in the tube while 38 triads were tested in both setups.

    Results: We found no preference for individual or heavier females in either setup. However, in the horizontal tube setup, males significantly preferred females that were not visited by them in the previous test.

    Conclusions: Our results suggest a lack of male mate choice despite heavier females having higher fecundity. However, future studies should take into account that males may recognize the potential mating partners they previously met.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number316
    JournalParasites and Vectors
    Volume15
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)316
    Number of pages8
    ISSN1756-3305
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2022

    Keywords

    • Animals
    • Body Size
    • Cues
    • Female
    • Fertility
    • Ixodidae
    • Male
    • Reproduction

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