Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Blow flies, synanthropy and sex ratio: are the deviations in the sex proportion linked to human transformation of landscapes?

Abstract

In most species, several factors like time of emergence, age at maturation, reproductive life span, survival of males and females, mating behavior, differential resource use, and migration patterns may affect the adult sex ratio. Anthropogenic landscape transformation is known to change diversity, favoring colonization by exotic species but other populational parameters, such as the sex ratio, have not been assessed. The aim of the present study was to describe the sex-ratio patterns of adult necrophagous blow flies captured using carrion-baited traps along habitats representing different levels of human impact. We describe the sex bias for four species: the exotic Chrysomya albiceps, Chrysomya megacephala, Chrysomya putoria, and the native Cochliomyia macellaria. Three types of habitats were selected: highly anthropized (urbanized), moderately anthropized (rural), and native forest (natural) within a humid subtropical ecoregion in Northeastern Argentina. We found an overall trend to female bias among the four species when considering the total number of each sex. However, our study showed a changing sex-ratio pattern along the gradient of human influence. Our results indicate that a higher likelihood of trapping more males in unsuitable habitats seems to be widespread among blow flies. Urban exploiters, such as Ch. megacephala and Ch. putoria, locally shifted their trends, becoming male-biased in natural habitats. The opposite trend was detected in the urban avoider Co. macellaria (which shifted to male-biased in urban habitats). The exception was Ch. albiceps, whose sex proportion did not shift to a male-biased sex ratio. The results of this study highlight the changing sex-ratio patterns displayed by Calliphoridae in response to different conditions along a human-influence gradient. The biological traits and underlying mechanisms promoting the intraspecific changes of the sex ratio are discussed.