The process of aging inevitably leads to changes in physiology, performance and fertility of eukaryotic organisms and results in trade-offs in the resource allocation between current and future reproduction and longevity. Such constraints may also affect the production of complex and costly signals used for mate attraction and might therefore be important in the context of mate choice. We investigated age-related changes in the amount and composition of the cephalic gland secretion that male European beewolves, Philanthus triangulum (Hymenoptera, Crabronidae) use to mark their territories. The secretion mainly consists of eleven long-chain compounds with large proportions of a carbon acid, a ketone and two alcohols, and small proportions of several alkanes and alkenes. Both the total amount and the composition of the gland content varied with age. The four compounds with functional groups were present in much lower proportions in very young and very old males compared to middle-aged males, suggesting that these components may be more costly than the alkanes and alkenes. Thus, physiological constraints may cause the delayed onset and early decline of these substances in the cephalic gland. There were also minor but significant changes in four components among the middle-aged males. These age-related changes in the amount and composition of the male marking secretion might provide reliable indicators for female choice.
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