lördag 7 mars 2015

Do you remember the first time? Moths apparently do!

Fun science: we just had an interesting paper published in Ecology Letters about how sexual encounters influence host plant preferences in both male and female moths. This popular scientific report in New Scientist describes fairly well what it's all about.

In this paper, and a previous paper in Ecology, we have studied how host plant preferences in moths are affected by previous encounters with these plants in the larval or adult stages.  In the latest paper, we demonstrated that sexual encounters (mating) on a specific plant increased the preferences of both males and females for this type of plant in subsequent choice situations. After having mated on a specific plant, females were much more likely to pick this type of plant for subsequent egg-laying (even plants that they otherwise shunned). Males were much more likely to search for females (or in this case a synthetic female sex pheromone that we used to fool them) on a specific plant type after having previously mated on this type of plant. Interestingly, this effect did not occur when the adult moths were just allowed to familiarize themselves with the plants in a situation that did not involve mating. So they apparently remember their first time with some fondness!