THE EVOLUTION OF REPEATED MATING IN THE BURYING BEETLE, NICROPHORUS VESPILLOIDES

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Abstract

Animals of many species accept or solicit recurring copulations with the same partner; i.e., show repeated mating. An evolutionary explanation for this excess requires that the advantages of repeated mating outweigh the costs, and that behavioral components of repeated mating are genetically influenced. There can be benefits of repeated mating for males when there is competition for fertilizations or where the opportunities for inseminating additional mates are rare or unpredictable. The benefits to females are less obvious and, depending on underlying genetic architecture, repeated mating may have evolved as a correlated response to selection on males. We investigated the evolution of repeated mating with the same partner in the burying beetle Nicrophorus vespilloides by estimating the direct and indirect fitness benefits for females and the genetics of behavior underlying repeated mating. The number of times a female mated had minimal direct and no indirect fitness benefits for females. The behavioral components of repeated mating (mating frequency and mating speed) were moderately negatively genetically correlated in males and uncorrelated in females. However, mating frequency and mating speed were strongly positively genetically correlated between males and females. Our data suggest that repeated mating by female N. vespilloides may have evolved as a correlated response to selection on male behavior rather than in response to benefits of repeated mating for females.

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