Sex and the single insect: The importance of mate-finding Allee effects
Insects that reproduce sexually must locate a suitable mate. Although many insect species have evolved efficient communication mechanisms to find each other, the number of reproductively viable individuals in a population can be an important constraint in the growth of populations. Consequently, many populations can be subject to a mate-finding Allee effect at low population densities. One of the more documented empirical examples of a mate-finding Allee effect and its broader consequences involves the non-native gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar (L.), and its invasion of North America.
The success of expanding gypsy moth populations has been shown to be affected by an Allee effect. In this talk, I will summarize the large body of evidence in which a mate-finding Allee effect in the gypsy moth system has been identified and quantified; how it interacts with landscape attributes that drive, for example, differences in reproductive synchrony; and how mate-finding Allee effects alter gypsy moth establishment success and invasion speed.