Precopulatory sexual selection in the seed bug Lygaeus equestris: a comparison of choice and no-choice paradigms

Liam R. Dougherty*, David M. Shuker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Mate choice has long been appreciated as a key component of sexual selection. However, how we measure mate choice, both in the field and in the laboratory, remains problematic. Mating preferences may be tested using either no-choice or choice tests, but explicit comparisons between these two experimental paradigms remain limited. It has been suggested that preferences may be stronger in choice tests as they allow simultaneous comparison, and some studies have indeed found stronger mating preferences in choice tests compared to no-choice tests. Here we explicitly tested the effect of experimental choice paradigm on the measurement of sexual selection on male and female morphology in the promiscuous seed bug Lygaeus equestris (Heteroptera, Lygaeidae). We performed mating trials in which we varied the amount of choice presented to each sex, giving four choice treatments: no-choice, male choice, female choice and mutual choice. Overall we found evidence for significant positive directional selection on female body length and stabilizing selection on an overall measure of male body size. However, we found no significant effect of choice paradigm on the patterns of sexual selection for males or females. We suggest this may be because of the method of mate assessment in L. equestris, which appears to be primarily via contact cues, which may limit simultaneous comparison between options. (C) 2014 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-214
Number of pages8
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


  • Choice paradigm
  • Experimental design
  • Lygaeidae
  • Mate choice
  • No-choice
  • Sequential choice
  • Sexual selection
  • Simultaneous choice
  • Visualizing selection
  • Simulans Heteroptera
  • Milkweed Bug
  • Body size
  • Insects
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Populations
  • Attraction
  • Copulation


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