ABS 2022
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The value in the details: copulatory courtship behavior in soldier flies and bean beetles
Flavia Barbosa. Lake Forest College, Lake Forest, IL, United States

William Eberhard’s legacy attests to the value of detailed behavioral observations. The significance of this descriptive approach can be illustrated by the phenomenon of copulatory courtship, or courtship that occurs during and following copulation. Through meticulous descriptions of copulatory behavior in numerous arthropods, Eberhard has demonstrated that copulatory courtship is common and widespread, and is likely a behavior shaped by cryptic female choice. Here I will highlight the importance of detailed observations of copulatory behaviors in both an understudied tropical species and a model organism. In the soldier fly Merosargus cingulatus, males perform copulatory courtship by waving their hind legs and tapping the female abdomen during copulation. In the absence of this behavior, females fail to oviposit after copulation, which is a mechanism of cryptic female choice. In bean beetles (Callosobruchus maculatus), males tap the female body with their antennae immediately before intromission. The courtship function of this antennation behavior is being investigated. These examples demonstrate that careful observations can generate novel insights, even in well-studied species.