The effects of reproduction on courtship, fertility and longevity within and between alternative male mating tactics of the horned beetle, Onthophagus binodis

Authors

  • L. W. SIMMONS,

    1. Centre for Evolutionary Biology, School of Animal Biology (M092), The University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA, Australia
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  • J. S. KOTIAHO

    1. Centre for Evolutionary Biology, School of Animal Biology (M092), The University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA, Australia
    2. Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
    3. Natural History Museum, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
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Leigh W. Simmons, Centre for Evolutionary Biology, School of Animal Biology (M092), The University of Western Australia, Crawley 6009, Australia.
Tel.: +61 8 6488 2221; fax: +61 8 6488 1029; e-mail: lsimmons@cyllene.uwa.edu.au

Abstract

Life history theory provides a powerful tool to study an organism's biology within an evolutionary framework. The notion that males face a longevity cost of competing for and displaying to females lies at the core of sexual selection theory. Likewise, recent game theory models of the evolution of ejaculation strategies assume that males face a trade-off between expenditure on the ejaculate and expenditure on gaining additional matings. Males of the dung beetle Onthophagus binodis adopt alternative reproductive tactics in which major males fight for and help provision females, and minor males sneak copulations with females that are guarded by major males. Minor males are always subject to sperm competition, and consistent with theoretical expectation, minor males have a greater expenditure on their ejaculate than major males. We used this model system to seek evidence that mating comes at a cost for future fertility and/or male expenditure on courtship and attractiveness, and to establish whether these traits vary between alternative mating tactics. We monitored the lifespan of males exposed to females and nonmating populations, and sampled males throughout their lives to assess their fertility and courtship behaviour. We found a significant longevity cost of reproduction, but no fertility cost. On average, males from mating populations had a lower courtship rate than those from nonmating populations. This small effect, although statistically nonsignificant, was associated with significant increases in the time males required to achieve mating. Minor males had lower courtship rates than major males, and took longer to achieve mating. Although we did not measure ejaculate expenditure in this study, the correlation between lower courtship rate and longer mating speed of minor males documented here with their greater expenditure on the ejaculate found in previous studies, is consistent with game theory models of ejaculate expenditure which assume that males trade expenditure on gaining matings for expenditure on gaining fertilizations.

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