Male control of sperm transfer dynamics in a spermatophore-donating bushcricket
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In many animal species, male and female interests often differ when it comes to decisions over mating and fertilization. However, it is intrinsically difficult to determine the degree to which males and females exert control over the various processes that determine the outcome of reproductive interactions, and thus to predict how such conflicts will be resolved. For example, in species where sperm are transferred to females via a spermatophore or other external sperm packaging device, it is unclear which sex determines subsequent sperm transfer dynamics to the female reproductive tract. To address this question, we used a reciprocal cross experimental design in a bushcricket species (Poecilimon veluchianus) comprising two subspecies differing in the dynamics of sperm transfer. The reciprocal crosses show that in these bushcrickets the timing of sperm transfer in inter-subspecies crosses closely resemble those typical of the subspecies of the male partner, indicating that it is the properties of the spermatophore rather than its handling by the female that determine sperm transfer dynamics. There was neither a significant female influence nor any indication of an interaction between males and females with regard to the number of sperm transferred after a set interval. Our study suggests that males rather than females appear to control the timing of the insemination process in this species.
KeywordsBushcrickets Insemination Sexual conflict Spermatophore Sperm transfer
We thank Karin Reinhold for her help with the experiments and Leif Engqvist for his comments on the manuscript.
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