Rhinoceros beetle (Trypoxylus dichotomus) cuticular hydrocarbons contain information about body size and sex

Micah A. Bell, Garrett Lim, Chelsey Caldwell, Douglas J. Emlen, Brook O. Swanson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Japanese rhinoceros beetle (Trypoxylus dichotomus) males have exaggerated horns that are used to compete for territories. Larger males with larger horns tend to win these competitions, giving them access to females. Agonistic interactions include what appears to be assessment and often end without escalating to physical combat. However, it is unknown what information competitors use to assess each other. In many insect species chemical signals can carry a range of information, including social position, nutritional state, morphology, and sex. Specifically, cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs), which are waxes excreted on the surface of insect exoskeletons, can communicate a variety of information. Here, we asked whether CHCs in rhinoceros beetles carry information about sex, body size, and condition that could be used by males during assessment behavior. Multivariate analysis of hydrocarbon composition revealed patterns associated with both sex and body size. We suggest that Rhinoceros beetles could be communicating information through CHCs that would explain behavioral decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0299796
Pages (from-to)e0299796
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 14 2024


  • Animals
  • Body Size
  • Coleoptera/anatomy & histology
  • Female
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Male
  • Perissodactyla
  • Sex Characteristics


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