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Keywords:

  • Ejaculate size;
  • heat shock;
  • Hsp;
  • inbreeding;
  • paternity;
  • sperm competition;
  • stress

Abstract

Environmental and genetic stress have well-known detrimental effects on ejaculate quality, but their concomitant effect on male fitness remains poorly understood. We used competitive fertilization assays to expose the effects of stress on offensive sperm competitive ability in the beetle Callosobruchus maculatus, a species where ejaculates make up more than 5% of male body mass. To examine the effects of environmental and genetic stress, males derived from outcrosses or sib matings were heat shocked at 50°C for 50 min during the pupal stage, while their siblings were maintained at a standard rearing temperature of 28°C. Heat-shocked males achieved only half the offensive paternity success of their siblings. While this population exhibited inbreeding depression in body size, sperm competitiveness was unaffected by inbreeding, nor did the effect of heat shock stress on sperm competitiveness depend on inbreeding status. In contrast, pupal emergence success was increased by 34% among heat-stressed individuals, regardless of their inbreeding status. Heat-shocked males' ejaculate size was 19% reduced, but they exhibited 25% increased mating duration in single mating trials. Our results highlight both the importance of stress in postcopulatory sexual selection, and the variability among stressors in affecting male fitness.