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Experience of mating rivals causes males to modulate sperm transfer in the fly Drosophila pseudoobscura

Abstract : Male responses to risk of sperm competition play an important role in sexual selection, sexual conflict, and the evolution of mating systems. Such responses can combine behavioural and physiological processes, and can be mediated through different components of the ejaculate such as sperm numbers and seminal proteins. An additional level of ejaculate complexity is sperm heteromorphism, with the inclusion of non-fertilising parasperm in the ejaculate. We now test the response to rivals in a sperm heteromorphic species, Drosophila pseudoobscura, measuring the behavioural response and sperm transfer and, crucially, relating these to short-term fitness. Males respond to exposure to conspecific rivals by increasing mating duration, but do not respond to heterospecific rivals. In addition, after exposure to a conspecific rival, males increased the transfer of fertilising eusperm, but not non-fertilising parasperm. Males exposed to a conspecific rival also achieve higher offspring production. This suggests that the evolution of parasperm in flies was not driven by sperm competition and adds to the increasing evidence that males can make extremely sophisticated responses to mating competition.
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Tom A.R. Price, Anne Lizé, Marco Marcello, Amanda Bretman. Experience of mating rivals causes males to modulate sperm transfer in the fly Drosophila pseudoobscura. Journal of Insect Physiology, Elsevier, 2012, 58 (12), pp.1669-1675. ⟨10.1016/j.jinsphys.2012.10.008⟩. ⟨hal-01399748⟩



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