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Costs of Reproduction in Male Bicyclus anynana and Pieris napi Butterflies: Effects of Mating History and Food Limitation


Dr Klaus Fischer, Department of Animal Ecology I, Bayreuth University, PO Box 101 251, D-95440 Bayreuth, Germany.


Life history theory predicts trade-offs arising from the costs of reproduction: individuals investing more into reproduction should have less energy available for their own somatic demands. Despite a wealth of research on such costs for females, very few studies have looked at the male side. We investigated the costs of reproduction in males of two butterfly species, Bicyclus anynana and Pieris napi. The males of these species differ tremendously in their allocation of nutrients to reproduction: virgin male spermatophores were 18.5 times larger in the latter compared with those in the former. Based on this striking difference, we expected to find a longevity cost of mating in P. napi, but not necessarily in B. anynana. In line with our predictions, we found no evidence for a survival cost of mating in B. anynana, while there was some evidence for such a cost in P. napi. Here, virgin males lived longer than once- or twice-mated ones. However, this overall trend did not hold for all treatment groups, and there was no linear relationship between the number of copulations and longevity. Adult food limitation reduced longevity throughout, but had otherwise very little impact. Spermatophore dry mass decreased in later compared with first spermatophores, while water content increased, indicating that spermatophore production is indeed physiologically costly. Additionally, adult food limitation tended to reduce spermatophore fresh and dry mass, and tended to increase spermatophore water content. Based on our results we tentatively conclude that longevity and reproduction may not always be traded off against each other, as in our study organisms’ longevity seems to depend in first place on adult carbohydrate income, while male reproduction seems to be primarily (although not entirely) fuelled by larval storage reserves.

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