Predation risk regulates prey assortative mating by reducing the expected reproductive value of mates

Viraj R. Torsekar*, Moshe Zaguri, Dror Hawlena

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Many animals exhibit size assortative mating (SAM), but how predation affects it remains largely unknown. We hypothesized that predation risk may turn prey less choosy, disrupting SAM, or reduce the expected reproductive value of mates, maintaining SAM but with different size ratio between mates. Using a manipulative field experiment, we found that desert isopods under risk of scorpion predation maintained SAM, but that males that choose and fight over females were on average smaller for a given female size. Less pairs were formed in risky sites, but there were no differences in female sizes and progeny number, size and age near and away from scorpion burrows. Our complementary behavioral experiments revealed that bigger males stayed longer near safe burrows, and won more male–male contests than smaller conspecifics. Our findings highlight that prey can anticipate future costs of predation and use this information to assess the expected reproductive value of mates.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere3869
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Ecology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of The Ecological Society of America.


  • assortative mating
  • desert isopods
  • field experiment
  • habitat use
  • male–male contests
  • mate choice
  • nest site selection
  • predation risk
  • scorpions


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