Competitive PCR reveals the complexity of postcopulatory sexual selection in Teleogryllus commodus

Authors

  • MATTHEW D. HALL,

    1. Evolution & Ecology Research Centre and School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia
    2. Zoologisches Institut, University of Basel, Basel CH-4051, Switzerland
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  • LUC F. BUSSIÈRE,

    1. Zoological Museum, University of Zürich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH 8057 Zürich, Switzerland
    2. School of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, UK
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  • MARCO DEMONT,

    1. Zoological Museum, University of Zürich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH 8057 Zürich, Switzerland
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  • PAUL I. WARD,

    1. Zoological Museum, University of Zürich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH 8057 Zürich, Switzerland
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  • ROBERT C. BROOKS

    1. Evolution & Ecology Research Centre and School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia
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Matthew D. Hall, Fax: +41-61-267-0362; E-mail: matt.hall@unibas.ch

Abstract

The outcome of mate choice depends on complex interactions between males and females both before and after copulation. Although the competition between males for access to mates and premating choice by females are relatively well understood, the nature of interactions between cryptic female choice and male sperm competition within the female reproductive tract is less clear. Understanding the complexity of postcopulatory sexual selection requires an understanding of how anatomy, physiology and behaviour mediate sperm transfer and storage within multiply mated females. Here we use a newly developed molecular technique to directly quantify mixed sperm stores in multiple mating females of the black field cricket, Teleogryllus commodus. In this species, female postcopulatory choice is easily observed and manipulated as females delay the removal of the spermatophore in favour of preferred males. Using twice-mated females, we find that the proportion of sperm in the spermatheca attributed to the second male to mate with a female (S2) increases linearly with the time of spermatophore attachment. Moreover, we show that the insemination success of a male increases with its attractiveness and decreases with the size of the female. The effect of male attractiveness in this context suggests a previously unknown episode of mate choice in this species that reinforces the sexual selection imposed by premating choice and conflicts with the outcome of postmating male harassment. Our results provide some of the clearest evidence yet for how sperm transfer and displacement in multiply mated females can lead directly to cryptic female choice, and that three distinct periods of sexual selection operate in black field crickets.

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