Behavioral plasticity can occur on multiple timescales, from traits fixed during development to traits that remain plastic throughout an individual’s lifetime. Because mate choice is a key factor in determining selection on male ornaments, understanding the timescale of plasticity in female choice behavior is critical to understanding how this plasticity influences selection. Experience of sexual signals during both the juvenile and adult stages often shapes mating behavior, but the relative importance of experience during each stage is unclear. Does mate preference become fixed during development or does it remain plastic throughout adulthood? We manipulated the perceived social environment of female Pacific field crickets (Teleogryllus oceanicus) by exposing them to either song or silence during the juvenile and adult stages. Exposure to song during the adult stage significantly decreased measures of responsiveness to calling song, while experience of calling songs during the juvenile stage resulted in a suggestive but non-significant reduction in measures of responsiveness. Mate choice behaviors of adult female crickets are therefore predicted to track changes in their environments’ fluctuating demographics, and this plasticity may have important evolutionary implications.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
MZ is supported by the University of Minnesota and National Science Foundation grant 1261575. We also thank Susan Balenger, Elizabeth Bastiaans, Justa Heinen-Kay, Ruth Shaw, Emilie Snell-Rood, Marla Spivak, and several undergraduates, especially Paul Swim, and the editors of the Journal of Insect Behavior and two anonymous reviewers for insightful comments.
© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media New York.
- mate choice
- sexual selection
- social environment