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Natural selection drives the link between male immune function and reproductive potential

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In the ground cricket Allonemobius socius (Scudder 1877), males provide females with a hemolymph-based nuptial gift. The size of the gift depends on when copulation is terminated, which can be controlled by either sex. Here we show that more immunocompetent males provide larger nuptial gifts, increasing their reproductive potential. To address if this pattern was the consequence of sexual selection for an honest signal (i.e., females assess mate immune quality through the hemolymph), we examined which sex controlled gift size. We found that the probability that males initiated the end of copulation increased when gift size was small (stereotypical of less immunocompetent males). Thus, early termination of copulation was the consequence of male behavior, suggesting that the association between immunocompetence and gift size was not due to sexual selection, but to natural selection for male vigor.

Les mâles du grillon de Caroline, Allonemobius socius (Scudder, 1877), présentent aux femelles une offrande nuptiale à base d'hémolymphe. La taille de l'offrande dépend du moment de la fin de l'accouplement qui peut être contrôlée par l'un ou l'autre partenaire. Nous montrons que les mâles les plus immunocompétents fournissent des offrandes nuptiales plus importantes, ce qui augmente leur potentiel reproductif. Afin de déterminer si ce pattern est la conséquence de la sélection sexuelle d'un signal fiable (c.-à.-d. que les femelles évaluent la qualité immunitaire de leur partenaire par l'hémolymphe), nous avons observé quel partenaire contrôle la taille de l'offrande. La probabilité que le mâle décide du moment de la fin de l'accouplement augmente lorsque l'offrande est petite (signe stéréotypé d'un mâle moins immunocompétent). La fin hâtive de l'accouplement est donc due au comportement du mâle, ce qui laisse croire que l'association entre l'immunocompétence et la taille de l'offrande nuptiale ne s'explique pas par la sélection sexuelle, mais plutôt par la sélection naturelle de la puissance sexuelle mâle.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2005

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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