False promises: Females spurn cheating males in a field cricket

William E. Wagner, Andrew R. Smith, Alexandra L. Basolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Females commonly prefer to mate with males that provide greater material benefits, which they often select using correlated male signals. When females select higher-benefit males based on correlated signals, however, males can potentially deceive females by producing exaggerated signals of benefit quality. The handicap mechanism can prevent lower-quality males from producing exaggerated signals, but cannot prevent cheating by higher-quality males that choose to withhold the benefit, and this poses a major problem for the evolution of female choice based on direct benefits. In a field cricket, Gryllus lineaticeps, females receive seminal fluid products from males with preferred songs that increase their fecundity and lifespan. We tested the hypothesis that female behaviour penalizes males that provide lower-quality benefits. When females were paired with males that varied in benefit quality but had experimentally imposed average songs, they were less likely to re-mate with males that provided lower-quality benefits in the initial mating. This type of conditional female re-mating may be a widespread mechanism that penalizes males that cheat on direct benefits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-381
Number of pages3
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 22 2007


  • Cryptic mate choice
  • Deception
  • Direct benefits
  • Field cricket
  • Sexual selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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