Some diopsid flies have sexually dimorphic eye stalks that are assumed to require considerable nutrition for growth but are advantageous in competition and courtship. According to the handicap theory, the eye span in some dimorphic species serves as a reliable signal of individual quality to an opponent. However, it is not well understood how well eye span represents energy source storage. In this study, we focused on two species: Sphyracephala detrahens, which has weak dimorphism, and Cyrtodiopsis dalmanni, which has moderate dimorphism. We found that the eye stalks of the former species contained more fat bodies than those of the latter species. When the flies were starved, the fat body cells in the eye stalks underwent autophagy. A strong positive correlation was consistently found between eye span and starvation tolerance for S. detrahens, while a weak correlation was found for C. dalmanni. Furthermore, starvation decreased the contest winning rate between S. detrahens pairs with similar eye spans. These findings suggest that the presentation of resource holding potential may be larger than the actual storage ability and that the fidelity of nutritional storage signaling varies; the signal presented by S. detrahens is more reliable than that presented by C. dalmanni.
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