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Spermatophore Size in Bushcrickets: Comparative Evidence for Nuptial Gifts as a Sperm Protection Device

Nina Wedell
Evolution
Vol. 47, No. 4 (Aug., 1993), pp. 1203-1212
DOI: 10.2307/2409986
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2409986
Page Count: 10
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Spermatophore Size in Bushcrickets: Comparative Evidence for Nuptial Gifts as a Sperm Protection Device
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Abstract

During courtship and copulation, males of many insect species provide the female with a nuptial gift of a prey item or synthesized material. These gifts may be explained as a form of paternal investment by increasing female reproductive output, or in terms of mating effort by increasing male fertilization success. These explanations, while not mutually exclusive, are controversial. While experimental studies examine the maintenance of nuptial gifts in single species, comparative studies are required to indicate more general evolutionary trends. Male bushcrickets provide females with a nuptial gift, a spermatophylax, which is transferred to females at mating along with the sperm-containing ampulla. Analysis of comparative data of 28 species of bushcrickets (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae), reveals that male spermatophore size (spermatophylax and ampulla weight) is positively correlated with female refractory period, which, in turn, correlates with male fertilization success. Moreover, gift size (the spermatophylax) covaries with ejaculate size (the ampulla), which is consistent with the hypothesis that it serves as a sperm protection device. In contrast, there is no significant correlation between any measure of female fecundity and male spermatophylax size. This indicates that the variation in spermatophore size among bushcrickets is better explained by a mating-effort function than a paternal investment function.

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