Sex-specific repeatabilities and effects of relatedness and mating status on copulation duration in an acridid grasshopper

Michael Haneke-Reinders, Klaus Reinhold, Tim Schmoll
  • Ecology and Evolution, April 2017, Wiley
  • DOI: 10.1002/ece3.2937

Sex-specific repeatabilities in an acridid grasshopper

What is it about?

In species with direct sperm transfer, copulation duration is a crucial trait that may affect male and female reproductive success and that may vary with the quality of the mating partner. Furthermore, traits such as copulation duration represent the outcome of behavioral interactions between the sexes, for which it is important—but often difficult—to determine which sex is in phenotypic control. Using a double-mating protocol, we compared copulation durations between (1) virgin and nonvirgin and (2) sibling and nonsibling mating pairs in rufous grasshoppers Gomphocerippus rufus. Nonvirgin copulations took on average approximately 30% longer than virgin copulations, whereas relatedness of mating partners was not a significant predictor of copulation duration. Longer nonvirgin copulations may represent a male adaptation to sperm competition if longer copulations allow more sperm to be transferred or function as postinsemination mate guarding. The absence of differences between pairs with different degrees of relatedness suggests no precopulatory or preinsemination inbreeding avoidance mechanism has evolved in this species, perhaps because there is no inbreeding depression in this species, or because inbreeding avoidance occurs after copulation. Controlling for the effects of male and female mating status (virgin vs. nonvirgin) and relatedness (sibling vs. nonsibling), we found significant repeatabilities (R) in copulation duration for males (R = 0.33; 95% CI: 0.09–0.55) but not for females (R = 0.09; 95% CI: 0.00–0.30). Thus, copulation durations of males more strongly represent a nontransient trait expressed in a consistent manner with different mating partners, suggesting that some aspect of the male phenotype may determine copulation duration in this species. However, overlapping confidence intervals for our sex-specific repeatability estimates indicate that higher sampling effort is required for conclusive evidence.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ece3.2937

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