Kin recognition and incest avoidance in a group-living insect

Mathieu Lihoreau, Cedric Zimmer, Colette Rivault

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


Mate choice theories predict that animals evolved strategies to mate with optimally genetically dissimilar partners, providing fitness benefits. In group-living species, when adults do not disperse, assessment of relatedness between conspecifics can be a key factor for choosing mates. Here, we report for the first time, kin recognition abilities and their implication in mate choice in the gregarious cockroach, Blattella germanica (L.). Binary choice tests showed that females mated preferentially with nonsibling rather than with sibling males, thus avoiding incest. In addition, inbreeding induced an important decrease of their reproductive success. Contrary to what could be expected when females had the choice between a nonsibling strain member and a nonstrain member, they did not avoid mating with distantly related nonstrain members, and extreme outbreeding induced an increase of their reproductive success. Furthermore, our mate choice experiments disentangled the influences of familiarity from those of relatedness and evidenced that kin discrimination was based on genetic cues independently of familiarity. Phenotype matching was a plausible mechanism for kin recognition. Contrary to many insect species, body size was not a salient criterion for mate choice and had no consequences on reproductive success.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)880-887
Number of pages8
JournalBehavioral Ecology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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