Inbreeding depression in an insect with maternal care: influences of family interactions, life stage and offspring sex

Authors

  • J. Meunier,

    Corresponding author
    1. Zoological Institute, Evolutionary Biology, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Mainz, Germany
    • Correspondence: Joël Meunier, Zoological Institute, Evolutionary Biology, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Mainz, Germany. Tel.: +49 (0)6131 39 278 52; fax: +49 (0)6131 39 278 50; e-mail: meunier.joel@gmail.com

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  • M. Kölliker

    1. Department of Environmental Sciences, Zoology and Evolution, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
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Abstract

Although inbreeding is commonly known to depress individual fitness, the severity of inbreeding depression varies considerably across species. Among the factors contributing to this variation, family interactions, life stage and sex of offspring have been proposed, but their joint influence on inbreeding depression remains poorly understood. Here, we demonstrate that these three factors jointly shape inbreeding depression in the European earwig, Forficula auricularia. Using a series of cross-breeding, split-clutch and brood size manipulation experiments conducted over two generations, we first showed that sib mating (leading to inbred offspring) did not influence the reproductive success of earwig parents. Second, the presence of tending mothers and the strength of sibling competition (i.e. brood size) did not influence the expression of inbreeding depression in the inbred offspring. By contrast, our results revealed that inbreeding dramatically depressed the reproductive success of inbred adult male offspring, but only had little effect on the reproductive success of inbred adult female offspring. Overall, this study demonstrates limited effects of family interactions on inbreeding depression in this species and emphasizes the importance of disentangling effects of sib mating early and late during development to better understand the evolution of mating systems and population dynamics.

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