, Volume 51, Issue 4, pp 368-377

Determinants of paternity success in the spider Pholcus phalangioides (Pholcidae: Araneae): the role of male and female mating behaviour

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Abstract.

In double mating experiments, we examined whether and to what extent various male and female behavioural traits influence the course of mating and fertilization success in the cellar spider. In males, we focussed on pre-copulatory behaviour and on the rhythmic twisting movements that the male performs with his pedipalps during copulation. In females, we investigated remating decisions and the effect of female termination of copulation. Second males fertilized a high proportion of the eggs (P 2: median 89%) despite much shorter second matings, with high variation in relative paternity success. The number of pedipalp movements (PPMs) of either male was a better predictor of paternity than copulation duration. Our results suggest that in second matings, PPMs help to remove sperm from previous males, whereas in first matings a high number of PPMs enhances fertilization success, either due to numerical sperm competition or cryptic female choice. Furthermore, we found a negative male age effect on paternity in second matings, implying that age-related deterioration of spermatozoa may promote variation in fertilization success. Female receptivity decreased significantly in second matings; only 70% of the females remated. Females that accepted a second copulation were found to terminate these much earlier and with higher probability than first matings. This suggests that the intensity of conflict between the sexes is higher in second matings. Increased intensity of sexual conflict may be responsible for stronger selection on male traits, as pre-copulatory behaviour and age only affected male copulatory performance and paternity in second matings.

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