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Behavioral Ecology




There is accumulating evidence that male insects advertise their quality to conspecific females through pheromones. However, most studies of female released sex pheromone assume information transfer regarding merely the species of the female and her mating status. We show that more and precise information is conveyed through the female sex pheromone, positioning it as an honest sexual trait. We demonstrate that females in bad physical conditions (small, starved or old) lay significantly fewer eggs than females in good conditions (large, fed or young). The ratio of the sex pheromone blend in gland extracts of female pink bollworm moths accurately describes the female phenotypic condition whereas the pheromone amount in the glands fails to provide an honest signal of quality. Moreover, males use the female released pheromone blend to choose their mates and approach females that signal higher reproductive potential. In addition, surrogating the female effect, using synthetic pheromone blend that represents that of higher quality females (0.6:0.4 ZZ:ZE) more males were attracted to this blend than to the blend representing the population mean (0.5:0.5 ZZ:ZE). Both, female advertisement for males and the male choosiness, suggest that pheromones have evolved as sexual traits under directional, sexual selection.


This is a manuscript of an article published as Gonzalez-Karlsson, Adrea, Yftach Golov, Hadass Steinitz, Aviad Moncaz, Eyal Halon, Rami Horowitz, Inna Goldenberg et al. "Males perceive honest information from female released sex pheromone in a moth." Behavioral Ecology (2021). doi:10.1093/beheco/arab073. Posted with permission.

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