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Old-male paternity advantage is a function of accumulating sperm and last-male precedence in a butterfly


Correspondence: Tobias Kehl, E-mail:


Old-male mating advantage has been convincingly demonstrated in Bicyclus anynana butterflies. This intriguing pattern may be explained by two alternative hypotheses: (i) an increased aggressiveness and persistence of older males during courtship, being caused by the older males' low residual reproductive value; and (ii) an active preference of females towards older males what reflects a good genes hypothesis. Against this background, we here investigate postcopulatory sexual selection by double-mating Bicyclus anynana females to older and younger males, thus allowing for sperm competition and cryptic mate choice, and by genotyping the resulting offspring. Virgin females were mated with a younger virgin (2–3 days old) and afterwards an older virgin male (12–13 days old) or vice versa. Older males had a higher paternity success than younger ones, but only when being the second (=last) mating partner, while paternity success was equal among older and younger males when older males were the first mating partner. Older males produced larger spermatophores with much higher numbers of fertile sperm than younger males. Thus, we found no evidence for cryptic female mate choice. Rather, the findings reported here seem to result from a combination of last-male precedence and the number of sperm transferred upon mating, both increasing paternity success.

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