Size-assortative pairing in Gammarus pulex (Crustacea : Amphipoda): a test of the timing hypothesis

K.D. Hume, Robert Elwood, J.T.A. Dick, K.M. Connaghan

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19 Citations (Scopus)


We present the first empirical test of the timing hypothesis regarding the generation of size-assortative pairing in amphipods. The timing hypothesis proposes that, since large males are better able to afford the costs of mate guarding than small males, the former can take larger females into precopula earlier in the female moult cycle than is feasible for the latter. This leaves small males to form pairs with smaller females closer to moult, thus generating size assortment. We presented male Gammarus pulex, collected both in precopula and as singletons, with females that were (1) previously guarded and therefore near to copulatory moult and (2) previously unguarded and therefore far from copulatory moult. This comparison tested the prediction of the timing hypothesis, that size assortment should break down when the opportunity for time-based male decisions is removed, but that size assortment should occur where timing is not disrupted. Counter to the hypothesis, we found that size assortment did not break down upon removal of the time factor. Large males tended to initiate mate guarding earlier than small males in both female moult groups. However, only in the previously unguarded group did large males guard for longer than small males. This result suggests that, although size assortment occurred in all groups, the causative mechanisms that generated this pattern may differ between these groups. We therefore consider the possible importance of mechanisms such as aggression, simultaneous manipulation of females and female resistance in producing size assortment where males encounter numerous females that are close to moult. We also observed that prior recent guarding experience by males had no effect on latency to guard or size-assortative pairing. (C) 2002 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-244
Number of pages6
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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