A study of nonrandom mating in a British population of the two-spot ladybird with a high frequency of the melanic morph
In some studies of the two-spot ladybird (Adalia bipunctata), melanic males have been found in excess over the typical morph in matings. Data suggest that a genetic female mating preference is responsible. The mating advantage of melanic males may be important in maintaining a polymorphism between melanic and typical ladybirds in many populations in the United Kingdom (U. K.). It has been reported that preference frequency varies linearly with melanic frequency throughout most of the U.K. One particular population of Adalia bipunctata near Aberdare, South Wales, is noted for its high frequency of melanic individuals. It has been suggested that local environmental factors account for the high melanic frequency in this population. It is also possible, however, that a female mating preference may be at least partly responsible for the high frequency of melanics (as has been proposed for the rest of the U.K.). In this study, experiments have been performed to determine the level of female mating preference in the Aberdare population. No evidence was found for any mating advantage to melanic males. There was inconsistent and unexpected evidence that melanic females were overrepresented in matings, but the cause for this was unclear. Female mating preference does not appear, therefore, to be responsible for the high melanic frequency in the population of Adalia bipunctata near Aberdare. There is not a simple association between mating preference and melanic frequency in U.K. populations of the two-spot ladybird.