Adopting a stoichiometric perspective (e.g. the balance of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus in organisms and their resources) has enhanced our understanding of ecological phenomena at a variety of hierarchical levels of organization. Unfortunately, little is presently known about how stoichiometry directly influences animal behaviour. Here we use a stoichiometric perspective to investigate how phosphorus availability in the environment influences mate attraction behaviour in insects. Using adult male European house crickets (Acheta domesticus), we manipulated the availability of dietary phosphorus and we quantified how survival, propensity to signal acoustically or not ('signallers' versus nonsignalling 'silent' males) and lifetime mate attraction signalling were affected. Dietary phosphorus availability did not influence the proportion of signallers versus silent males. However, signallers fed a diet rich in phosphorus had significantly higher signalling efforts than those that consumed a phosphorus-poor diet. Interestingly, signallers also lived longer than silent males, but neither signaller nor silent male survival was influenced by diet. Our findings suggest that the availability of dietary phosphorus has the potential to impact mating system evolution.

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Animal Behaviour
Department of Biology

Bertram, S.M, Whattam, E.M. (Emily M.), Visanuvimol, L. (Laksanavadee), Bennett, R. (Rachel), & Lauzon, C. (Christopher). (2009). Phosphorus availability influences cricket mate attraction displays. Animal Behaviour, 77(2), 525–530. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2008.11.012