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The Evolution of Insect Mating Systems$
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David Shuker and Leigh Simmons

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199678020

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199678020.001.0001

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Reproductive contests and the evolution of extreme weaponry

Reproductive contests and the evolution of extreme weaponry

Chapter:
(p.92) Chapter 6 Reproductive contests and the evolution of extreme weaponry
Source:
The Evolution of Insect Mating Systems
Author(s):

Douglas J. Emlen

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199678020.003.0006

Many insect species face intense reproductive competition, with males battling rival males for opportunities to mate with females. In some lineages the intensity of reproductive competition has led to the evolution of extravagant weapons—disproportionately large mandibles, antlers, horns, or legs. Comparison of the behaviours and natural histories of heavily armed species with related species lacking big weapons hints at the ecological circumstances likely shaping the evolution of extreme weapon sizes. Escalated weapon evolution appears most likely when insects depend on limiting resources that are localized and economically defensible, and when fights over these resources unfold on, or in, substrates that restrict access to guarding males, structuring male—male encounters so that they tend to occur as a succession of duels, rather than multi-male scrambles. This combination of (1) intense reproductive competition, (2) limiting, localized resources, and (3) one-on-one contests, appears a potent formula for rapid evolution of extraordinary weapon sizes

Keywords:   male–male competition, limiting resources, reproductive competition, weapon evolution

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