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Beetle mating requires strong grip as defensive behavior

Date:
August 15, 2012
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Sexual selection in the forked fungus beetle favors larger body and horn size, and a new study investigates the relationship between these traits and the beetles' grip strength.
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FULL STORY

A large male B. cornutus undergoing a grip strength trial. (A) The male grips the dowel rod in a similar fashion to how males grip females during courtship and guarding in the wild. (B) The same male at maximum resistance just before releasing the dowel rod.
Credit: Benowitz et al, PLoS One, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0042738.g002

Sexual selection in the Forked Fungus Beetle favors larger body and horn size, and a new study investigates the relationship between these traits and the beetles' grip strength, which is crucial for the male to hold on to the female and shield her from other males in an elaborate courtship ritual.

The full results are reported on Aug. 15 in the open access journal PLoS ONE.

During the courtship ritual, male beetles grab onto the female, sometime for several hours, which would seem to favor males with stronger grip. A video of this behavior is included with the published paper. The authors of the study, led by Vincent Formica of Swarthmore College, tested the grip strength of 84 beetles, both male and female, by tying a piece of thread around the beetles' bodies, allowing them to wrap their legs around a small rod, and then pulling the beetle vertically until they released the rod.

The researchers found that grip strength was very consistent for each individual, that males overall have a stronger grip, and that this sexual dimorphism appears to result from a complex relationship between body size and leg length. Their results, they write, suggest that there is a suite of traits that influence grip performance and therefore might affect sexual selection.


Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kyle M. Benowitz, Edmund D. Brodie, Vincent A. Formica. Morphological Correlates of a Combat Performance Trait in the Forked Fungus Beetle, Bolitotherus cornutus. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (8): e42738 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0042738

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Public Library of Science. "Beetle mating requires strong grip as defensive behavior." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120815174856.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2012, August 15). Beetle mating requires strong grip as defensive behavior. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120815174856.htm
Public Library of Science. "Beetle mating requires strong grip as defensive behavior." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120815174856.htm (accessed August 31, 2015).

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