• butterfly;
  • captive breeding;
  • mating success;
  • population genetics;
  • sperm competition

A pedigree approach is used to estimate the effective population size yn two population cages of the butterfly, Bicyclus anynana. Each cage was founded with 54 individually marked adults of each sex. Matings were recorded over a 3-day period. Eggs were then collected from each female over a similar period before the numbers of hatching larvae were counted to assess progeny number. The males showed a higher variance in reproductive success than the females. Since about one-quarter of all females mated more than once, we also examined the pattern of sperm precedence using molecular markers or, in separate crossing experiments, wing pattern mutants. Both instances of complete first and last male sperm precedence, as well as of sperm mixing, were found. In some crosses a ‘leakiness’ was found in which some of the early eggs laid by a female were fertilized by a male partner which was subsequently completely unsuccessful. However, the estimates of effective population size were largely unaffected by the pattern of sperm precedence. Estimates for Ne : N in each cage were close to 0.60. The possibility of obtaining comparable estimates in selected natural populations of butterflies is discussed.