Adjustment of copula duration and ejaculate size according to the risk of sperm competition in the golden egg bug (Phyllomorpha laciniata)

Paco Garcia, M. Gomendio

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    68 Citations (Scopus)


    Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain the adaptive significance of prolonged copulations in insects, which include mate guarding and sperm loading functions. We have explored the adaptive significance of the prolonged copulations in the golden egg bug (copulations up to 50 h) and the effect of an increased risk of sperm competition on ejaculate investment. Our data support predictions derived from sperm competition theory, which posits that males are expected to increase ejaculate expenditure in response to an increased risk of sperm competition. Results show a combined response by males that has not been previously described: males in the presence of rivals increase copulation duration and the rate of sperm transfer. No relationship was found between male or female size and copulation duration or ejaculate size. Golden egg bug males transfer sperm slowly and gradually throughout copulation; thus an increase in the amount of sperm transferred and the corresponding increase in the male's numerical representation in the female's storage organs could be particularly important in a system in which so few sperm are transferred and in which so few sperm are stored by females. In addition, copulation duration may not only serve to increase the total amount of sperm transferred, but it may also increase the chances that the female will lay an egg soon after copulation has ended. This could explain why males tend to accept eggs after copulation, since they could be maximizing the chances that such eggs are fathered by them, and in this way they would substantially increase the survival rates of their offspring because eggs laid on plants suffer high mortality rates.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)23-30
    JournalBehavioral Ecology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


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