Female multiple mating in wild and laboratory populations of the two-spot ladybird, Adalia bipunctata


Penelope R. Haddrill, Fax: (+44) 131 650 6564; E-mail: p.haddrill@ed.ac.uk


Female mating rate is an important variable for understanding the role of females in the evolution of mating systems. Polyandry influences patterns of sexual selection and has implications for sexual conflict over mating, as well as for wider issues such as patterns of gene flow and levels of genetic diversity. Despite this, remarkably few studies of insects have provided detailed estimates of polyandry in the wild. Here we combine behavioural and molecular genetic data to assess female mating frequency in wild populations of the two-spot ladybird, Adalia bipunctata (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae). We also explore patterns of sperm use in a controlled laboratory environment to examine how sperm from multiple males is used over time by females, to link mating with fertilization. We confirm that females are highly polyandrous in the wild, both in terms of population mating rates (~20% of the population found in copula at any given time) and the number of males siring offspring in a single clutch (three to four males, on average). These patterns are consistent across two study populations. Patterns of sperm use in the laboratory show that the number of mates does not exceed the number of fathers, suggesting that females have little postcopulatory influence on paternity. Instead, longer copulations result in higher paternity for males, probably due to the transfer of larger numbers of sperm in multiple spermatophores. Our results emphasize the importance of combining field and laboratory data to explore mating rates in the wild.