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Corpus Systématique Animale

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Mating effort or paternal investment? Incorporation rate and cost of male donations in the wartbiter

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  • Nina Wedell
  • Department of Zoology, University of Stockholm, S-10691, Stockholm, Sweden

Provision of nuptial gifts and incorporation of male-derived substances occurs in several insects. There has been some discussion as to whether these gifts should be regarded as a form of paternal investment or part of mating effort. One assumption of the paternal investment hypothesis is that the donating male is expected to father all, or the majority of, the offspring. The rate of incorporation into developing eggs is therefore assumed to be rapid enough to assure the donating male of paternity of the offspring in which he is investing. Spermatophore production in a paternal investment system is also expected to be costly, since males are providing females with highly nutritious gifts during copulation, thereby increasing female fecundity. Therefore, under conditions of food limitation males are expected to alter either mating frequency or spermatophore size. Experiments on the wartbiter (Decticus verrucivorus), using radioactive isotopes, show that the incorporation rate of male-derived substances is so slow that females become sexually receptive before any material received from the last male have been incorporated into eggs laid by the female. Since sperm mixing occurs in this species and since the label is present in eggs laid up to more than 30 days after mating, males might potentially benefit another male's offspring. The nuptial gift (the spermatophylax) was found, regardless of mating frequency and diet, to have a low protein content. These findings coincide with previous results showing that consumption of the gift had no effect on female fecundity. Instead, wartbiter males keep mating frequency high, are capable of mating every day regardless of food availability, invest the same proportion of the body weight in spermatophore production regardless of size, and produce a spermatophylax that correlates with ampulla size. These results indicate that the nuptial gift mainly functions to increase fertilization success in the wartbiter.

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  • 1 - health sciences
  • 2 - psychology & cognitive sciences
  • 3 - behavioral science & comparative psychology
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  • 1 - sciences appliquees, technologies et medecines
  • 2 - sciences biologiques et medicales
  • 3 - sciences biologiques fondamentales et appliquees. psychologie
  • 4 - ethologie animale
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  • 1 - Life Sciences ; 2 - Agricultural and Biological Sciences ; 3 - Animal Science and Zoology
  • 1 - Life Sciences ; 2 - Agricultural and Biological Sciences ; 3 - Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
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  • 1 - science ; 2 - zoology
  • 1 - science ; 2 - ecology
  • 1 - science ; 2 - behavioral sciences
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Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

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