Why do female Callosobruchus maculatus kick their mates?

Emile Van Lieshout, Kathryn Mcnamara, Leigh Simmons

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    Abstract

    Sexual conflict is now recognised as an important driver of sexual trait evolution. However, due to their variable outcomes and effects on other fitness components, the detection of sexual conflicts on individual traits can be complicated. This difficulty is exemplified in the beetle Callosobruchus maculatus, where longer matings increase the size of nutritious ejaculates but simultaneously reduce female future receptivity. While previous studies show that females gain direct benefits from extended mating duration, females show conspicuous copulatory kicking behaviour, apparently to dislodge mating males prematurely. We explore the potential for sexual conflict by comparing several fitness components and remating propensity in pairs of full sibling females where each female mated with a male from an unrelated pair of full sibling males. For one female, matings were terminated at the onset of kicking, whereas the other's matings remained uninterrupted. While fecundity (number of eggs) was similar between treatments, uninterrupted matings enhanced adult offspring numbers and fractionally also longevity. However, females whose matings were interrupted at the onset of kicking exhibited an increased propensity to remate. Since polyandry can benefit female fitness in this species, we argue that kicking, rather than being maladaptive, may indicate that females prefer remating over increased ejaculate size. It may thus be difficult to assess the presence of sexual conflict over contested traits such as mating duration when females face a trade off between direct benefits gained from one mating and indirect benefits from additional matings. © 2014 van Lieshout et al.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number e95747
    Number of pages5
    JournalPLoS One
    Volume9
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2014

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