Great Basin Naturalist


Soldier beetles of 2 species, Chauliognathus basalis and C. deceptus, were examined to test the Crespi hypothesis that positive assortative mating by size is caused by mate choice. Specifically, we tested the prediction that if mate choice involves choosing the largest mate available, then mating individuals will be larger than nonmating individuals. Four samples were taken, at different times during the mating season, from each of 2 sites. Each sample consisted of mating pairs, nonmating males, and nonmating females. Some of the samples contained beetles of both species; others contained beetles of a single species. For each gender elytron lengths of mating individuals were compared with elytron lengths of nonmating individuals. We found no effect of mating status (mating vs. nonmating) on elytron lengths in samples that exhibited assortative mating (which occurs where 2 species coexist). Surprisingly, we found a consistent effect of mating status on elytron lengths in samples that did not exhibit assortative mating (which occurs where only 1 species exists). Our results do not support the mate-choice hypothesis. Instead, mate choice and assortative mating appear to be alternative mating patterns in which mate choice occurs where a single species exists and assortative mating occurs where 2 species coexist.