Diet during development affects mating habits, insect study shows.

Posted on July 8, 2019

An animal’s choice of mate can be influenced by its diet as it reaches sexual maturity. Researchers believe that beetles are the first to link an animal’s nutritional intake during sexual development with its adult breeding habits.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh carried out tests using burying beetles, which become sexually mature a few days after reaching adulthood. They have raised males and female beetles from birth before placing them with potential mating partners. Some of the beetles were given less food than others, either at the time of their sexual development, or when placed alongside the opposite sex.

Females that had been underfed at any point in their lives preferred to mate with well-fed males, the study showed. This may be because they seek to optimize the health of their offspring by choosing a partner in relatively good condition.

Males that had been denied food during sexual development also behaved differently from those who had not. Underfed males spent more time making courtship signals, possibly to avoid physically competing with other males for mates.

Scientists say their findings -- that diet during development influences sexual behavior -- may be common in other species. Future studies could examine this, and what impact this may have on the offspring of affected animal

Source material from Science Daily

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