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Keywords:

  • mating behaviour;
  • population differentiation;
  • sepsid flies;
  • speciation;
  • spermathecae;
  • testes

Abstract

Theory predicts that males have a limited amount of resources to invest in reproduction, suggesting a trade-off between traits that enhance mate acquisition and those that enhance fertilization success. Here, we investigate the relationship between pre- and post-copulatory investment by comparing the mating behaviour and reproductive morphology of four European and five North American populations of the dung fly Sepsis punctum (Diptera) that display a reversal of sexual size dimorphism (SSD). We show that the geographic reversal in SSD between the continents (male biased in Europe, female biased in North America) is accompanied by differential investment in pre- vs. post-copulatory traits. We find higher remating rates in European populations, where larger males acquire more matings and consequently have evolved relatively larger testes and steeper hyper-allometry with body size. American populations, in sharp contrast, display much reduced, if any, effect of body size on those traits. Instead, North American males demonstrate an increased investment in mate acquisition prior to copulation, with more mounting attempts and a distinctive abdominal courtship display that is completely absent in Europe. When controlling for body size, relative female spermathecal size is similar on both continents, so we find no direct evidence for the co-evolution of male and female internal reproductive morphology. By comparing allopatric populations of the same species that apparently have evolved different mating systems and consequently SSD, we thus indirectly demonstrate differential investment in pre- vs. post-copulatory mechanisms increasing reproductive success.