Experimental manipulation reveals a trade-off between weapons and testes

Ummat Somjee, Christine Miller, Nikolai Juris Tatarnic, Leigh William Simmons

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31 Citations (Web of Science)
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Theory predicts a trade-off between sexually selected weapons used to secure mates and post-copulatory traits used to maximize fertilization success. However, individuals that have a greater capacity to acquire resources from the environment may invest more in both pre- and post-copulatory traits, and trade-offs may not be readily apparent. Here, we manipulate the phenotype of developing individuals to examine allocation trade-offs between weapons and testes in Mictis profana (Hemiptera: Coreidae), a species where the hind legs are sexually selected weapons used in contests over access to females. We experimentally prevented males from developing weapons by inducing them to autotomize their hind legs before the final moult to adulthood. We compared trait expression in this group to males where autotomy was induced in the mid-legs, which are presumably not under sexual selection to the same extent. We found males without weapons invested proportionally more in testes mass than those with their mid-legs removed. Males that developed to adulthood without weapons did not differ from the mid-leg removal group in other traits potentially under precopulatory sexual selection, other post-copulatory traits or naturally selected traits. In addition, a sample of adult males from the same population in the wild revealed a positive correlation between investment in testes and weapons. Our study presents a critical contribution to a growing body of literature suggesting the allocation of resources to pre- and post-copulatory sexual traits is influenced by a resource allocation trade-off and that this trade-off may only be revealed with experimental manipulation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-65
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


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