Exclusive Male Egg Care and Determinants of Brooding Success in a Millipede


Shin-Ichi Kudo, Department of Biology, Naruto University of Education, Naruto, Tokushima, 772-8502 Japan.
E-mail: skudo@naruto-u.ac.jp


The evolution of exclusive male parental care is a major and controversial issue in behavioural ecology. Although arthropods practicing paternal care are thought to be key taxa for investigating this issue, few studies have attempted to clarify the selection factors associated with male behaviour and fitness consequences in arthropods. In the millipede Brachycybe nodulosa, males curl their bodies around egg masses on the undersides of decaying logs. Male-removal experiments in the laboratory strongly suggest that males defend the eggs against fungal infection. Orphaned eggs were soon covered by hyphae and no eggs hatched, whereas almost all eggs brooded by males successfully hatched. The egg-brooding males showed no aggressive responses when disturbed. Only some mature males bred in the field. Furthermore, the number of eggs brooded varied greatly among the males. Selected generalized linear models revealed that males with a wide seventh body segment, which possesses gonopods (genital legs), tended to succeed in brooding; and males with a wider body also obtained more eggs. Colony attributes had no significant effects on male brooding. We discuss the possible sexual selection mechanisms that could accomplish this pattern of brooding success among male B. nodulosa.