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Effects of male ejaculate on female reproductive output and longevity in Photinus fireflies

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In many insects, nuptial gifts in the form of spermatophores have been shown to increase female fecundity and to contribute to female somatic maintenance. Examining how variation in male spermatophore size affects female fitness components can provide insight into the evolution of nuptial gifts, as well as insight into potential conflicts between the sexes. Here we present an experimental study on the firefly Photinus obscurellus LeConte, 1851 in which we altered spermatophore size by manipulating male mating history and examined effects on female offspring production and longevity. Females were randomly allocated to one of two mating treatments in which they mated once with a male producing either a large or a small spermatophore. We found that male spermatophore size had no significant effect on lifetime fecundity or daily reproductive rates of female P. obscurellus, but females that received a larger spermatophore showed a tendency toward longer postmating life spans. These results suggest a direct benefit to females from nuptial gifts and also reveal the potential for synergistic effects on multiple facets of female fitness.

Keywords: Coleoptera; Lampyridae; Photinus obscurellus; cadeaux nuptiaux; coléoptères; female fecundity; female longevity; fécondité des femelles; lampyridés; longévité des femelles; nuptial gifts; spermatophores

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: May 13, 2012

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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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