Reproductive interference in two ground-hopper species: testing hypotheses of coexistence in the field
|AGGREGATION; BEHAVIOR; COMPETITION; COST; Ecology; ENVIRONMENT; Environmental Sciences & Ecology; ORTHOPTERA; PREFERENCES; SEGREGATION; SUCCESS; TETRIX
Similar to resource competition, reproductive interference may hamper the coexistence of closely related species. Species that utilize similar signal channels during mate finding may face substantial fitness costs when they come into contact and demographic displacement of the inferior species (sexual exclusion) is a likely outcome of such interactions. The two ground-hopper species Tetrix ceperoi and Tetrix subulata broadly overlap in their ranges and general habitat requirements, but rarely co-occur on a local scale. Results from laboratory and field experiments suggest that this mosaic pattern of sympatry might be influenced by reproductive interference. Here, we examine the significance of sexual interactions for these species in the field and test hypotheses on mechanisms of coexistence. Our results show that heterospecific sexual interactions also occur under field conditions, but in contrast to the experiments T. ceperoi was not the inferior species. The number of male mating attempts of both species was strongly correlated with encounter frequencies. Males discriminated between the sexes but not between the species, suggesting an incomplete mate recognition system in both species. The analysis of microhabitat preferences and spatial distribution revealed that habitat partitioning is not a suitable mechanism of coexistence in this system. Instead, the costs of reproductive interference are substantially mitigated by different niche breadths leading to different degrees of aggregation. Despite a considerable niche overlap T. ceperoi displayed a stronger preference for bare ground and occurred more aggregated than T. subulata, which had a broader niche. These differences may reduce the frequencies of heterospecific encounters and interactions in the field. Our results demonstrate that coexistence in the presence of reproductive interference is comparable to resource competition, being strongly influenced by ecological traits of the involved species, such as niche breadth and dispersion pattern.
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checked on Mar 2, 2024