Paternal investment in Poecilimon veluchianus bushcrickets: beneficial effects of nuptial feeding on offspring viability
In most bushcrickets, males transfer a large spermatophore during copulation that is afterwards consumed by the female. In some species this nuptial gift enhances offspring fitness and is therefore believed to function as paternal investment. To determine whether this is the case, I examined whether a male's own offspring benefit from spermatophore consumption in the bushcricket Poecilimon veluchianus. Females that consumed a spermatophore produced offspring with increased residuals of dry weight compared to females that were prevented from feeding on the spermatophore. This beneficial effect of spermatophore consumption occurred within the first 4 days after copulation. An increased dry weight indicates higher energy reserves because offspring dry weight correlates significantly with the lifespan of starved larvae and because spermatophore consumption increased the lifespan of starved offspring. During egg-laying, females apply a liquid substance to the soil that hardens and probably serves as protection for the egg clutch. The amount of this substance correlated with the number of eggs laid but did not differ between spermatophore treatments. In P. veluchianus, females mate frequently and there is last-male sperm precedence. The spermatophore thus only constitutes paternal investment when offspring produced before female remating benefit from spermatophore consumption. The dry weight of offspring increased during the first 4 days after spermatophore consumption and thus within the natural remating interval. This shows that the spermatophore has a paternal investment function in addition to its already known sperm protection function.
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