Academics     Alumni     Art Gallery     Arts     Athletics     Community     Construction     Deaths     Emergency     Experts     Facilities     
Faculty     Giving     Incubator     International     Music     Performances     Research     Seniors     Speakers     Special Events     Students     
Summer     Sustainability     Theatre     Vitae     

News Releases from SUNY Fredonia

Current Articles | Categories | Search | Syndication

Researchers shed light on behavior in sexual cannibalism
Sunday, August 06, 2006



Jonathan Lelito, above, is working on his doctorate at Penn State University. He is studying pheromonal communication in insects in the laboratory of Dr. Tom Baker in the Department of Entymology. "My current model insects are the heliothine moths," he said. "I am particularly interested in how behavioral changes can come about through sexual selection when sympatry between related species causes potential mating mistakes."

Approaching a female for sex is tantamount to laying his life on the line, but male praying mantises aren't that willing to die for the chance to mate, SUNY Fredonia Biology Professor William D. Brown and his former graduate student Jonathan P. Lelito reported recently in the The American Naturalist.

Their research into the sexual cannibalism of mantids broke new ground in biology by showing strong evidence for the first time that males aren’t willing to trade their lives for sex.

It’s a curious fact that some female creatures in the animal kingdom—insects, spiders, aquatic crustaceans, and scorpions, for example—will kill their sex partners after the act of mating. “There’s been some suggestion out there that maybe males are willing accomplices in the act of sexual cannibalism,” Brown said. “People have gone back and forth on it but there hasn’t been any strong evidence to settle it.” He and Lelito (who is now at Penn State working on a Ph.D.), set up what they thought was the simplest, most straightforward way to find out whether sex or survival was the stronger motivator.

Copulation between praying mantises gets risky for a simple enough reason. “Why do the females bite off their partners’ heads? Because males are a good meal,” Dr. Brown said.

Sexual cannibalism occurs only about 20 percent of the time, just enough to encourage the males to get smarter and smarter as they live another day.

The Fredonia research showed that the hungrier the female, the more likely she is to attack her mate. Brown and Lelito’s measurements showed that male mantids appeared to be able to cue in on her danger level. When she was hungrier, the male slowed down his approach. “He did everything more cautiously and increased his courtship behavior,” Dr. Brown said. Involving a kind of sinuous dance, “courting” was seen when a male mantid approaching a hungrier female would stop at a safe distance and spend some time widely swinging his abdomen and belly. “It may be a signal that he’s a mate, not a food item,” Brown said.

Another variation they created was seeing if a male would make himself less vulnerable to a direct attack, which he did. “Females are visual hunters,” Brown said, noting their heads are almost entirely made of their eyes. “They attack with these raptorial forearms, right in the front. So head-on is the most risky angle for the male to approach and he’ll avoid it.” Male mantids jump on the females’ backs to mate. “He’ll jump from a farther distance when she’s hungrier,” Brown said.

The study has captured the interest of the popular press, and Brown has been interviewed by The New York Times (see the Times' story here). The story has been publicized internationally and translated into other languages, including Japanese, Spanish, German, and Hungarian.  “People are fascinated by it,” Brown said. “It’s dangerous sex.”

Brown teaches ecology, evolution and conservation in the Fredonia biology department. Founded in 1867, The American Naturalist is one of the world's most renowned, peer-reviewed publications in ecology, evolution, and population and integrative biology research. It publishes research that advances the knowledge of organic evolution and other broad biological principles.

Share on Facebook

Previous Page | Next Page


Comment By SUNY Fredonia News Services - Read more...

News by year

2014        2013       
2012        2011       
2010        2009       
2008        2007       
2006        2005       
Minimize

News by month

July 2014 (3)
June 2014 (10)
May 2014 (25)
April 2014 (68)
March 2014 (43)
February 2014 (42)
January 2014 (24)
December 2013 (26)
November 2013 (33)
October 2013 (72)
September 2013 (62)
August 2013 (23)
July 2013 (1)
June 2013 (13)
May 2013 (18)
April 2013 (70)
March 2013 (62)
February 2013 (54)
January 2013 (32)
December 2012 (20)
November 2012 (37)
October 2012 (71)
September 2012 (54)
August 2012 (23)
July 2012 (10)
June 2012 (5)
May 2012 (21)
April 2012 (66)
March 2012 (55)
February 2012 (62)
January 2012 (34)
December 2011 (21)
November 2011 (41)
October 2011 (52)
September 2011 (51)
August 2011 (23)
July 2011 (10)
June 2011 (15)
May 2011 (32)
April 2011 (62)
March 2011 (59)
February 2011 (60)
January 2011 (24)
December 2010 (23)
November 2010 (48)
October 2010 (48)
September 2010 (52)
August 2010 (22)
July 2010 (6)
June 2010 (8)
May 2010 (36)
April 2010 (75)
March 2010 (57)
February 2010 (58)
January 2010 (21)
December 2009 (19)
November 2009 (54)
October 2009 (63)
September 2009 (51)
August 2009 (27)
July 2009 (5)
June 2009 (11)
May 2009 (38)
April 2009 (77)
March 2009 (57)
February 2009 (54)
January 2009 (36)
December 2008 (34)
November 2008 (45)
October 2008 (52)
September 2008 (45)
August 2008 (14)
July 2008 (11)
June 2008 (10)
May 2008 (35)
April 2008 (56)
March 2008 (45)
February 2008 (33)
January 2008 (23)
December 2007 (23)
November 2007 (29)
October 2007 (36)
September 2007 (19)
August 2007 (10)
July 2007 (1)
June 2007 (10)
May 2007 (13)
April 2007 (29)
March 2007 (26)
February 2007 (22)
January 2007 (7)
December 2006 (11)
November 2006 (28)
October 2006 (29)
September 2006 (31)
August 2006 (17)
July 2006 (2)
June 2006 (7)
May 2006 (17)
April 2006 (19)
March 2006 (33)
February 2006 (20)
January 2006 (4)
December 2005 (3)
November 2005 (5)
October 2005 (2)
Minimize

Arts on Campus

Fredonia alumni and faculty shine at Artie Awards

It was a great night for Fredonia Department of Theatre and Dance alumni and faculty at the 24th Annual Artie Awards held on June 2 at the Town Ballroom in Buffalo. The Arties is Buffalo’s annual celebration of its theatre season, a time to acknowledge the contributions of actors, designers and theatre companies in the city, and also a fundraising event for the Erie County Medical Center Immunodeficiency Services.

Read more.


Signups begin for Fredonia children's drama day camp
Signups begin for Fredonia children's drama day camp

The world of dramatic arts will come alive for area children who join the annual Playground Drama Day Camp at Rockefeller Arts Center at Fredonia. The first camp, for children ages 11 to 18, will be staged Aug. 11 to 16, the second session, for ages 7 to 12, runs Aug 18 to 23.

Read more.


Fredonia to offer ‘Intensive’ Shakespeare camp for students
Fredonia to offer ‘Intensive’ Shakespeare camp for students

The Midsummer Shakespeare Intensive, a unique, all-inclusive overnight camp for students, ages 15 and up, which focuses on the works of William Shakespeare, will be conducted July 20-26 at Fredonia’s College Lodge. Morning studio sessions will focus on acting, voice and movement, while afternoon and evening sessions will be devoted to stage combat, rehearsals and Shakespearean master classes.

Read more.


Fredonia to host week-long student film production workshop
Fredonia to host week-long student film production workshop

A casting and crew call is being issued for Action Film Workshops, an introduction to digital media production, that the State University of New York at Fredonia Department of Theatre and Dance will host for students, ages 13 and up, at Rockefeller Arts Center from July 28 through Aug. 2. For more information or to obtain registration materials, contact Sharon@fredonia.edu.

Read more.


Concerto Competition winners announced

The School of Music has announced the winners of the 2014 Concerto Competition including saxophonist Joseph Bennett, soprano Margaret van Norden and pianist Callen Lange. The event was held Sunday, May 4, in King Concert Hall.

Read more.