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Size, symmetry, and sexual selection in the housefly, Musca domestica
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-08, 19:02 authored by Dave GoulsonDave Goulson, Lucy Bristow, Emma Elderfield, Karen Brinklow, Beca Parry-Jones, Jason W Chapman
Relationships between measures of body size, asymmetry, courtship effort, and mating success were investigated in the housefly, Musca domestica (Diptera: Muscidae). A previous study indicated that both male and female flies with low fluctuating asymmetry enjoyed enhanced mating success. The aim of our investigations was to determine whether the greater success of symmetrical males is due to variation in male mating effort or to female choice and whether males exhibited mate choice. However, our study found directional rather than fluctuating asymmetry, with both male and female flies having, on average, longer left wings than right. Also, asymmetry was not related to mating success in either sex. Rather, both males and females appeared to exhibit choice on the basis of the size of potential mates, with males preferring females with long bodies and females preferring heavy males. Possible benefits from choice of large mates are discussed. The initial mating strikes (in which the male leaps onto the back of the female) did not appear to be targeted according to female morphology, and their frequency did not vary according to male morphology. This indicates that mate choice by both sexes according to size probably occurs during the later stages of courtship, when the flies are in intimate contact. Possible reasons for the absence of choice according to asymmetry are discussed.
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- Evolution, Behaviour and Environment Publications
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