G N STONE, Graham Stone

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Attempts by males of the solitary bee Anthophora plumipes Pallas (Apoidea: Anthophoridae) to mate with foraging females at flowers of comfrey, Symphytum orientale, were studied. The mating system conformed to scramble competition polygyny. After an initial period of nectar foraging in the morning, males patrolled the comfrey and attempted to copulate with any females they encountered. The majority of females were unreceptive, and were able to reject the male after his initial pounce, which knocked the female to the ground. Females could experience rates of attempted copulation exceeding once every 3 s, which significantly reduced their rate of visiting flowers and hence prolonged the period required to provision nest cells. Females responded to male harassment by evasive flight and physical repulsion and also by a more general change in foraging behaviour. Females abandoned flowers on the outer parts of plants frequented by males, and foraged from flowers inside the plant's growth where males did not often venture. Consideration of sugar rewards per flower and handling times suggested that male harassment halved the rate of reward for females from exposed outer flowers. When males were removed from the site, females abandoned the inner flowers and foraged from more profitable outer flowers. When males were released, the original pattern of behaviour was quickly re-established. During poor weather the ability of females to provision cells became marginal, and male harassment could thus have significant consequences for female fitness. (C) 1995 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-412
Number of pages8
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1995


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