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Mating Effort and Cryptic Sperm Choice in Scorpionflies: Male Investment Strategy vs. Female Control


Sierk Engels, Institut für Evolutionsbiologie und Ökologie, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, An der Immenburg 1, D-53121 Bonn, Germany.


In this study, we examined which sex controls sperm transfer during copulation in scorpionflies. Therefore male scorpionflies were doubly mated to females of high and low fecundity to explore whether they allocate sperm according to female quality. While mating order had no effect males transferred sperm at higher rates when mating with low-quality instead of high-quality females. As there is no obvious benefit from providing low-fecundity females with more sperm, we suggest a condition-dependent female ability to counteract sperm transfer. Therefore, we disabled females at the beginning of copulations using the insecticide Propoxur which leads to total paralysis caused by tremors. While the provoked muscle contractions led to significantly smaller numbers of sperm transferred, Propoxur treatment had no effect on males. We suggest female counteracting of sperm transfer to be adaptive by decreasing the relative amount of sperm transferred by low-quality males and increasing the proportion of offspring sired by high-quality males.