Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Biology

Degree Level



Biological Sciences


Westerman, Erica

Committee Member/Reader

Paré, Adam

Committee Member/Second Reader

Eidelman, Scott

Committee Member/Third Reader

Drawve, Grant


Males mate multiply in many species, including butterflies, but little is known about whether the act of mating influences future male choosiness. We might expect mating to influence future preference, as previous studies have shown that pre-mating social experiences affect future male mate choice. To determine if initial male mate choice affects subsequent male mating decisions, we conducted behavioral assays using the subtropical nymphalid butterfly Bicyclus anynana. We tested three alternative hypotheses: 1) initial mating is a positive experience that strengthens male preference for the previously encountered phenotype; 2) males prefer mating with a different phenotype in their second mating, exhibiting bet-hedging behavior; and 3) there is no effect of past mating experience on future mate choice. We first mated B. anynana males with a female with 0 or 2 dorsal hindwing eyespots (DHS). We then allowed males to choose between females with 0 or 2 DHS to determine if the initial mate’s wing pattern influences male preference for that female's wing pattern in subsequent mating encounters. We utilized paint to alter wing ornamentation by either painting over UV DHS or painting black spots below existing UV DHS. We used naïve male preference as a control. We found that males from all three treatments mated randomly when choosing between females with 0 and 2 DHS. Our findings suggest no effect of past mating experience on future mate choice in B. anynana, implying an essential distinction between pre-mating exposure and mating exposure in the male B. anynana brain.


Animal Behavior, Mate preference, Male choosiness, Multiple mating, Bicyclus anynana

Available for download on Sunday, April 26, 2026

Included in

Biology Commons