Male competition for mates can occur through contests or a scramble to locate females. We examined the significance of contests for mates in the leaf beetle Chrysomela aeneicollis, which experiences a short breeding season. During peak mating season, 18-52% of beetles are found in male-female pairs, and nearly half of these are copulating. Sex ratios do not differ from parity, females are larger than males, and positive size-assortative mating occurs. Males fight (2-4% of beetles) over access to females, and disruption of mating usually follows these contests. In the laboratory, we compared mating and fighting frequencies for males found in mating pairs (field-paired) and single males placed into an arena with a field-paired female. Mating pairs were switched in half of arenas (new male-female pairs) and maintained in the other half. For 2 days, each male was free to move about and fight; thereafter males were tethered to prevent contests. Mating frequencies were significantly greater for field-paired than single males in both situations. Male size was not related to mating frequency; however, large females received more matings than small ones. These data suggest that males fight for high quality females, but otherwise search for as many matings as possible.
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