Effects of community interactions on mating decisions —
Background — During my postdoctoral work with C. Miller (U. Florida), I have investigated how community composition influences mating decisions, social networks, and reproductive success. In a focal species of leaf-footed bug, mating decisions are influenced by reproductive interference from a congener and attacks by a parasitoid fly.
Results (forthcoming) — With a simultaneous choice-test experiment, I found that reproductive interference between two closely-related species is largely driven by male preference for female body size (Hamel, Nease, & Miller, in prep. for Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology). I then manipulated community composition (one or two species) in enclosures containing a biologically-relevant density of individuals, and monitored the mating behavior of individually-marked insects. I am now evaluating differences in the number of mates, number of copulations, social network size and composition, and female reproductive success among treatments.
Significance — These data will be the first to suggest how variation in community structure can influence mating decisions, social network structure, and reproductive outcomes.