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'Paranoia' about rivals alters insect mating behavior
Date:8/8/2011

r for females that mate with many males. Some butterflies, for example, have evolved disproportionately large testes so that males can deliver increased sperm numbers. Fruitflies have behavioural reactions to the presence of rival males that result in prolonged reproduction with females to ensure fertilisation before the female mates with other males.

"We wanted to understand how this compared to fruitfly species where females only mated once, to see whether drivers of evolutionary change are different in species where sperm competition is low. What we observed might be considered the evolutionary equivalent of male 'paranoia'. Males more than doubled the length of time they mated with a female after they had been in the presence of other males.

"There doesn't appear to be an immediate biological reason as to why they would do this, but it is perhaps to ensure that the female remains fertile with one male's sperm for her lifespan, even though the chance of reproducing with another is remote.

"Our findings are significant because they demonstrate that particular behaviours, such as the response to competitor males, can have diverse evolutionary drivers. This takes us a step closer to understanding the differences between males that have evolved within species where individual females mate with many males and those have just one partner."

The research is published in Biology Letters.


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Contact: Samantha Martin
samantha.martin@liverpool.ac.uk
44-151-794-2248
University of Liverpool
Source:Eurekalert

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