Environmental correlates of sexual signaling in the Heteroptera: a prospective study

Eleanor H. Z. Gourevitch*, David Michael Shuker

*Corresponding author for this work

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Sexual selection is a major evolutionary process, shaping organisms in terms of success in competition for access to mates and their gametes. The study of sexual selection has provided a rich empirical and theoretical literature addressing the ecological and evolutionary causes and consequences of competition of gametes. However, there remains a bias towards individual, species-specific studies, whilst broader, cross-species comparisons looking for wider-ranging patterns in sexual selection remain uncommon. For instance, we are still some ways from understanding why particular kinds of traits tend to evolve under sexual selection, and under what circumstances. Here we consider sexual selection in the Heteroptera, a sub-order of the Hemiptera, or true bugs. The latter is the largest of the hemimetabolous insect orders, whilst the Heteroptera itself comprises some 40,000-plus described species. We focus on four key sexual signaling modes found in the Heteroptera: chemical signals, acoustic signaling via stridulation, vibrational (substrate) signaling, and finally tactile signaling (antennation). We compare how these modes vary across broad habitat types and provide a review of each type of signal. We ask how we might move towards a more predictive theory of sexual selection, that links mechanisms and targets of sexual selection to various ecologies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1079
Number of pages28
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2021


  • Antennation
  • Chemical signaling
  • Sexual selection
  • Heteroptera
  • Abdominal vibration
  • Sexual communication
  • Stridulation


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