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Song and Sperm in Crickets: A Trade-off between Pre- and Post-copulatory Traits or Phenotype-Linked Fertility?


Susan M. Bertram, Department of Biology, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1S 5B6.


When females mate multiply (polyandry) both pre- and post-copulatory sexual selection can occur. Sperm competition theory predicts there should be a trade-off between investment in attracting mates and investment in ejaculate quality. In contrast, the phenotype-linked fertility hypothesis predicts a positive relationship should exist between investment in attracting mates and investment in ejaculate quality. Given the need to understand how pre- and post-copulatory sexual selection interacts, we investigated the relationship between secondary sexual traits and ejaculate quality using the European house cricket, Acheta domesticus. Although we found no direct relationship between cricket secondary sexual signals and ejaculate quality, variation in ejaculate quality was dependent on male body weight and mating latency: the lightest males produced twice as many sperm as the heaviest males but took longer to mate with females. Our findings are consistent with current theoretical models of sperm competition. Given light males may have lower mating success than heavy males because females take longer to mate with them in no-choice tests, light males may be exhibiting an alternative reproductive tactic by providing females with more living sperm. Together, our findings suggest that the fitness of heavy males may depend on pre-copulatory sexual selection, while the fitness of light males may depend on post-copulatory fertilization success.