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Male coercion and convenience polyandry in a calopterygid damselfly

Author(s): A. Cordero | J.A. Andrés

Journal: Journal of Insect Science
ISSN 1536-2442

Volume: 2;
Start page: 14;
Date: 2002;
Original page

Keywords: sexual conflict | sexual harassment | Calopterygidae | forced matings | courtship

Copulation in odonates requires female cooperation because females must raise their abdomen to allow intromission. Nevertheless in Calopteryx haemorrhoidalis haemorrhoidalis (Odonata) males commonly grasp ovipositing females and apparently force copulations. This has been interpreted as a consequence of extreme population density and male-male competition. We studied this behavior at two sites on a river that had different densities over three years. As predicted, at high densities most matings were forced (i.e. not preceded by courtship), but at low density most were preceded by courtship. Courtship matings were shorter at high density, but density did not affect the duration of forced matings. Females cooperated in forced matings even if they had very few mature eggs. Furthermore, females mated more times if they experienced higher male harassment during oviposition, and at low density second and subsequent matings were more likely to be forced. We interpret these results to mean that females engage in "convenience polyandry", because they gain more by accepting copulation than by resisting males. The results also suggest that females might trade copulations for male protection, because under extreme population density harassment by males is so intense that they can impede oviposition.
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