Aggressive Mating as a Tragedy of the Commons in the Water Strider Aquarius remigis
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Tragedy of the commons, Water strider, Sexual conflict, Alternative mating strategies, Altruism, Selfish
The tragedy of the commons usually refers to the Overexploitation of resources such as food or water. Here, we show in a laboratory study that competition among males for females can also result in a tragedy of the commons' situation. Male water striders (Aquarius remigis) vary widely in their aggressiveness toward pursuing females. The most aggressive males prevent females from feeding and cause them to leave the water surface, where they are unavailable to all males. Groups of nonaggressive males are collectively three times more fit than groups of hyperaggressive males, but hyperaggressive males are more successful than nonaggressive males within mixed groups. This is the classic tragedy of the commons' situation, and it is likely to occur in many species that exhibit sexual conflict. We have also shown that individual differences in male aggression are stable across time and are not influenced by food or light regime, although all individuals become nonaggressive in the presence of fish predators.
Eldakar, Omar Tonsi; Michael J. Dlugos; R. Stimson Wilcox; and David Sloan Wilson. 2009. "Aggressive Mating as a Tragedy of the Commons in the Water Strider Aquarius remigis." Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 64, (): 25-33. doi:10.1007/s00265-009-0814-6.