Sexual selection on cuticular hydrocarbons of male sagebrush crickets in the wild

Sandra Steiger, Geoffrey D. Ower, Johannes Stökl, Christopher Mitchell, John Hunt, Scott K. Sakaluk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) play an essential role in mate recognition in insects but the form and intensity of sexual selection on CHCs has only been evaluated in a handful of studies, and never in a natural population.We quantified sexual selection operating on CHCs in a wild population of sagebrush crickets, a species in which nuptial feeding by females imposes an unambiguous phenotypic marker on males. Multivariate selection analysis revealed a saddle-shaped fitness surface, suggesting a complex interplay between the total abundance of CHCs and specific CHC combinations in their influence on female choice. The fitness surface resulting from two axes of disruptive selection reflected a trade-off between short- and long-chained CHCs, suggesting that males may be sacrificing some level of desiccation resistance in favour of increased attractiveness. There was a significant correlation between male body size and total CHC abundance, suggesting that male CHCs provide females with a reliable cue for maximizing benefits obtained from males. Notwithstanding the conspicuousness of males' acoustic signals, our results suggest that selection imposed on males via female mating preferences may be far more complex than previously appreciated and operating in multiple sensory modalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20132353
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1773
StatePublished - Nov 6 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Chemical communication
  • Cyphoderris strepitans
  • Fitness surface
  • Mate choice
  • Multivariate selection analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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