Male mating costs in a butterfly that produces small ejaculates

Authors

  • NUBIA CABALLERO-MENDIETA,

    1. Posgrado en Ciencias Biomédicas, Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México City, México
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  • CARLOS CORDERO

    Corresponding author
    1. Departamento de Ecología Evolutiva, Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City, México
    • Correspondence: Carlos Cordero, Departamento de Ecología Evolutiva, Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Circuito Exterior s/n, Ciudad Universitaria, Apdo. Post. 70-275, Coyoacán 04510, México City, Distrito Federal, México. Tel.: +52 55 5622 9003; e-mail: cordero@ecologia.unam.mx

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Abstract

In many insects, ejaculate size is positively related to male fitness, although the production of large ejaculates entails physiological costs that can result in decreased male longevity. Ejaculate production costs have been studied in butterfly species because males generally produce large ejaculates that are rich in resources. However, lepidopterans show interspecific variation with respect to relative investment in ejaculates (i.e. percentage of male body weight invested in ejaculates) that could influence the magnitude of costs. The physiological costs of ejaculate production are expected to differ between males with different amounts of resources stored. The effect of male size (an estimate of the amount of resources stored) on ejaculate production and on survivorship costs of multiple mating is studied in males of Leptophobia aripa Boisduval (Pieridae), the butterfly with the smallest relative investment in spermatophores recorded to date (0.31%). ‘Small males’ produce smaller spermatophores, although male size has no effect on ejaculate size (spermatophore + accessory substances), indicating that ‘small males’ make a relatively larger investment in the production of accessory substances. The results indicate that L. aripa males are able to modify the relative amount of resources invested in ejaculate production. Multiple mating has a negative effect on male longevity and this effect depends on male size: in comparison with virgin males, the longevity of ‘small males’ decreases after just one copula, whereas the longevity of ‘large males’ decreases after two copulations. The possible reasons why ‘small males’ invest relatively more resources in ejaculate production, despite the fact that they pay larger costs, are discussed.

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