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Abstract

The mating of the Neotropical lycosid Schizocosa malitiosa is long and complex, involving intense genital stimulation and copulatory courtship. This suggests functions other than just insemination. Previous data indicated that mated females of this species are less sexually receptive than virgins. We hypothesise that copulatory characteristics presented by males during prolonged copulations could be responsible for subsequent female sexual reluctance, and may be selected by cryptic female choice. Our objective was to examine the influence of copulatory behaviour on subsequent female sexual receptivity in S. malitiosa, isolating it from the effects of sperm transfer per se. For this purpose, we obtained males without sperm in their copulatory organs (palpal bulbs), and prevented them from charging their palps by sealing their genital pores immediately after their last moult (treated males). Virgin females were separated into three groups: (i) females exposed once to normal males, (ii) females exposed twice to normal males, and (iii) females exposed first to treated and second to normal males. The results showed that, 3 d after their first mating, females first mated with untreated males were frequently refractory to remating, whereas all those first mated with treated males were receptive. Copulations performed by treated males showed some differences from those performed by normal males, but maintained the basic behavioural pattern with abundant sexual stimulation. The presence of sperm fluids in the female receptacles appears to be the most likely factor generating female remating reluctance. Males may manipulate female responses using receptivity inhibiting substances in their sperm, like those described for insects. Females would first ensure sperm supply, becoming more choosy afterwards. All females, whether mated once or twice, generated similar numbers of progeny, indicating no relationship between number of matings and number of spiderlings.