Sexual interactions in triadic encounters involving paedomorphic and metamorphic Alpine newts Triturus alpestris
Denoël, Mathieu[Université de Liège - ULg > Département des sciences et gestion de l'environnement > Biologie du comportement - Ethologie et psychologie animale >]
12th Ordinary General Meeting Societas Europaea Herpetologica
12-16 August 2003
Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences
[en] Sexual selection theories suppose that morphologically-contrasting alternative morphs may exhibit different mating tactics. Facultative paedomorphosis in newts is a suitable process to explore this question because it implies the coexistence of two morphs differing by the presence of gills and epigamic traits. The aim of this study was to find out whether paedomorphs (i.e. adult retaining larval traits) and metamorphs use similar behavioural patterns to attract mates in the presence of a rival and whether there are differences in sexual activity and success between alternative morphs. Sexual interactions in triadic encounters were staged and analysed in a standardised experimental design. The two kinds of males did not differ in terms of sexual activity, spermatophore deposition or female responsiveness. Both rival paedomorphic and metamorphic males exhibited sexual interference, but in most encounters, intruders just disturbed the courting pair. Sperm transfer success was lower in triadic encounters than in dyadic encounters. These results illustrate that inter-morph breeding also occurs in the presence of competitors, but that the success rate of the newts is considerably decreased in such competitive situations. Moreover, newts do not use alternative reproductive tactics depending of their status (i.e. paedomorph or metamorph).
Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (Communauté française de Belgique) - F.R.S.-FNRS