Same-sex sexual behaviour occurs across diverse animal taxa, but adaptive explanations can be difficult to determine. Here we investigate male-male mounting (MMM) behaviour in female-deprived desert locust males infected with the entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium acridum. Over a four-week period, infected locusts performed more MMM behaviours than healthy controls. Among infected locusts, the probability of MMM, and the duration of time spent MMM, significantly increased with the mounting locust’s proximity to death. In experimental trials, infected locusts were also significantly more likely than controls to attempt to mount healthy males. Therefore, we demonstrate that MMM is more frequent among infected than healthy male locusts, and propose that this may be explained by terminal reproductive effort and a lowered mate acceptance threshold in infected males. However, during experimental trials mounting attempts were more likely to be successful if the mounted locusts were experimentally manipulated to have a reduced capacity to escape. Thus, reduced escape capability resulting from infection may also contribute to the higher frequency of MMM among infected male locusts. Our data demonstrate that pathogen infection can affect same-sex sexual behaviour, and suggest that the impact of such behaviours on host and pathogen fitness will be a novel focus for future research.
|Number of pages||7|
|Early online date||18 Jul 2017|
|Publication status||Published - 01 Dec 2017|
- animal behaviour
- Host-Pathogen Interactions
- Sexual Behavior, Animal/physiology
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- Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, Department of Life Sciences - Lecturer in Zoology
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