Costly sexual harassment in a beetle

Authors

  • LAURÉNE GAY,

    Corresponding author
    1. Center for Ecology and Conservation, University of Exeter Cornwall, Tremough Campus, Penryn, Cornwall, U.K.
      Laurène Gay, Center for Ecology and Conservation, University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus, Tremough Campus, Penryn TR10 9EZ, U.K. Tel.: +44 01326 371872; fax: +44 01326 253638; e-mail: l.gay@exeter.ac.uk
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  • PAUL E. EADY,

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, U.K.
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  • RAM VASUDEV,

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, U.K.
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  • DAVID J. HOSKEN,

    1. Center for Ecology and Conservation, University of Exeter Cornwall, Tremough Campus, Penryn, Cornwall, U.K.
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  • TOM TREGENZA

    1. Center for Ecology and Conservation, University of Exeter Cornwall, Tremough Campus, Penryn, Cornwall, U.K.
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Laurène Gay, Center for Ecology and Conservation, University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus, Tremough Campus, Penryn TR10 9EZ, U.K. Tel.: +44 01326 371872; fax: +44 01326 253638; e-mail: l.gay@exeter.ac.uk

Abstract

Abstract The optimal number of mating partners for females rarely coincides with that for males, leading to sexual conflict over mating frequency. In the bruchid beetle Callosobruchus maculatus, the fitness consequences to females of engaging in multiple copulations are complex, with studies demonstrating both costs and benefits to multiple mating. However, females kept continuously with males have a lower lifetime egg production compared with females mated only once and then isolated from males. This reduction in fitness may be a result of damage caused by male genitalia, which bear spines that puncture the female’s reproductive tract, and/or toxic elements in the ejaculate. However, male harassment rather than costs of matings themselves could also explain the results. In the present study, the fitness costs of male harassment for female C. maculatus are estimated. The natural refractory period of females immediately after their first mating is used to separate the cost of harassment from the cost of mating. Male harassment results in females laying fewer eggs and this results in a tendency to produce fewer offspring. The results are discussed in the context of mate choice and sexual selection.

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