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Sexual conflict in Gerris gillettei (Insecta: Hemiptera): influence of effective mating rate and morphology on reproductive success

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In water striders, the interests of both sexes diverge over the decision to mate, leading to precopulatory sexual conflict. The influence of mating rate and key persistence and resistance traits on reproductive success has seldom been investigated in the context of multiple matings. We used amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) based genetic parentage analyses to estimate mating and reproductive success in Gerris gillettei Lethierry and Severin, 1896, while allowing for free multiple matings. We tested the hypotheses that males should display stronger opportunity for sexual selection and steeper Bateman gradients. In each sex, persistence and resistance traits should also impact mating and reproductive success. Surprisingly, males and females had similarly high and variable effective mating rates (i.e., number of genetic partners), and both sexes produce more offspring when mating with more partners. As predicted, exaggerated persistence traits allowed males to mate with more partners and sire more offspring. However, we found no evidence for an impact of resistance traits for females. The mating environment may have favoured low resistance in females, but high promiscuity can be beneficial for females. This first description of the genetic mating system for a water strider species suggests that the determinants of fitness can be further deciphered using the sexual selection framework.

Keywords: AFLP parentage analysis; Gerris gillettei; analyse de filiation AFLP; aptitude de reproduction; conflit sexuel; mating rate; patineurs; persistance; persistence; reproductive fitness; resistance; résistance; sexual conflict; taux d’accouplement; water striders

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Département de biologie, Université Laval, Québec, QC G1V 0A6, Canada.

Publication date: 2012-11-01

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