Mating experience in field crickets modifies pre- and postcopulatory female choice in parallel

Darren Rebar, Marlene Zuk, Nathan W. Bailey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Modifications in female mate choice resulting from social experience can affect male reproductive success, thereby influencing the evolution of male secondary sexual characters. However, there is little information about how social experience affects different stages of female choice, for example, pre- versus postcopulatory choice, and whether social experience exerts parallel or divergent effects. Using field crickets, we tested 1) how prior experience with males of varying attractiveness modifies females' precopulatory and postcopulatory mate choice during subsequent mating encounters and 2) whether socially mediated changes in precopulatory choice reinforce or oppose changes in postcopulatory choice. We manipulated the attractiveness of males that females experienced by surgically silencing them and playing back artificially constructed courtship songs during preliminary mating trials. This experience, mediated solely by acoustic signals, had long-term effects on both pre- and postcopulatory choice during subsequent mating trials. Experience with an attractive male 24 h earlier caused females to mount subsequent males more slowly and retain their spermatophore for less time, whereas experience with an unattractive male caused females to mount subsequent males faster and retain their spermatophores for longer. Prior experience had a parallel effect on pre- and postcopulatory choice. The perceived attractiveness of previously encountered males, mediated by their courtship song, appears to strongly influence the reproductive success of subsequent males via alterations in pre- and postcopulatory female choice, confirming key predictions of theoretical models of sexual selection and mate choice that incorporate social effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-309
Number of pages7
JournalBehavioral Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Teleogryllus oceanicus
  • choosiness
  • postcopulatory
  • precopulatory
  • sexual selection
  • social effects


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