Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 123–129 | Cite as

Sperm transfer and storage in relation to sperm competition in Callosobruchus maculatus

  • Paul Eady


This paper examines the underlying mechanisms of sperm competition in the beetle Callosobruchus maculatus (F.) (Coleoptera: Bruchidae). Recently developed mathematical models of sperm competition are combined with an empirical investigation of the processes of sperm transfer and storage. During a single insemination virgin males transfer approximately 46000 sperm, 85% more sperm than females can effectively store in their spermathecae. Many of these sperm remain in the bursa copulatrix where they are apparently rapidly degraded and can therefore play no role in fertilization. The spermatheca (primary site of sperm storage) is filled by a single insemination and sperm are lost from this organ at a constant rate. This rate of sperm loss from the spermatheca is insufficient for sperm mixing (without displacement) or sperm stratification to account for the degree of last male sperm precedence measured as P2; the proportion of offspring fathered by the second male to mate reported for this species (P2 = 0.83, when two inseminations are separated by 24 h). Models of sperm displacement correctly predict high levels of sperm precedence although the precision of these predictions is limited because the proportion of sperm entering the spermatheca cannot be accurately determined. The results suggested that last male sperm precedence in C. maculatus the result of sperm displacement, although the exact mechanism of displacement (sperm-for-sperm or fluid displacement) remains unknown. Possible constraints imposed by female genital anatomy on sperm displacement are discussed.

Key words

Bruchidae Sperm competition Sperm storage 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Baker RR, Bellis MA (1988) “Kamikaze” sperm in mammals? Anim Behav 36:936–939Google Scholar
  2. Baker RR, Bellis MA (1989) Elaboration of the kamikaze sperm hypothesis: a reply to Harcourt. Anim Behav 37:865–867Google Scholar
  3. Bawa SR, Kanwar KC (1975) The structure of Callosobruchus maculatus spermatozoon. J Submicrosc Cytol 7:71–79Google Scholar
  4. Bedford JM (1970) The saga of mammalian sperm from ejaculation to syngamy. In: Gibian H., Plotz E.J. (eds) Mammalian reproduction. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 124–182Google Scholar
  5. Birkhead TR (1991) Sperm depletion in the Bengalese finch Lonchura striata. Behav Ecol 2:267–275Google Scholar
  6. Birkhead TR, Møller AP, Sutherland WJ (1993) Why do females make it so difficult for males to fertilize their eggs? J Theor Biol 161:51–60Google Scholar
  7. Brillard JP, Bakst MR (1990) Quantification of spermatozoa in the sperm-storage tubules of turkey hens and its relation to sperm numbers in the perivitelline layer of eggs. Biol Reprod 43:271–275Google Scholar
  8. Cohen J (1973) Crossovers, sperm redundancy and their close association. Heredity 31:408–413Google Scholar
  9. Dewsbury DA (1982) Ejaculate cost and male choice. Am Nat 119:601–610Google Scholar
  10. Eady PE (1991) Sperm competition in Callosobruchus maculatus (Coleoptera: Bruchidae): a comparison of two methods used to estimate paternity. Ecol Entomol 16:45–53Google Scholar
  11. Eady PE (1992) Sperm competition in Callosobruchus maculatus. PhD Thesis, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UKGoogle Scholar
  12. Eady PE (1994) Intraspecific variation in sperm precedence in Callosobruchus maculatus. Ecol Entomol 19:11–16Google Scholar
  13. Fox CW (1993) Multiple mating, lifetime fecundity and female mortality of the bruchid beetle Callosobruchus maculatus (Coleoptera: Bruchidae). Funct Ecol 7:203–208Google Scholar
  14. Gwynne DT (1984) Male mating effort, confidence of paternity and insect sperm competition. In: Smith RL (ed) Sperm competition and the evolution of animal mating systems. Academic Press, London, pp 117–149Google Scholar
  15. Harcourt AH (1989) Deformed sperm are probably not adaptive. Anim Behav 37:863–865Google Scholar
  16. Harcourt AH (1991) Sperm competition and the evolution of non-fertilizing sperm in mammals. Evolution 45:314–328Google Scholar
  17. Lamb JF, Ingram CG, Johnson RM (1980) Essentials of physiology. Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  18. Lessells CM, Birkhead TR (1990) Mechanisms of sperm competition in birds: mathematical models. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 27:325–337Google Scholar
  19. Nakatsuru K, Kramer DL (1982) Is sperm cheap? Limited male fertility and female choice in the lemon tetra (Pisces: Characidae). Science 216:753–755Google Scholar
  20. Ouedraogo AP (1978) Étude de quelques aspects de la biologic de Callosobruchus maculatus F (Coléoptère: Bruchidae) et de l'influence des facteurs externes stimulants (plante hôte et copulation) sur l'activité reproductrice de la femelle. Thése 3eme Cycle, University Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, FranceGoogle Scholar
  21. Parker GA, Simmons LW (1991) A model of constant random sperm displacement during mating: evidence from Scatophaga. Proc R Soc Lond B 249:107–115Google Scholar
  22. Parker GA, Simmons LW, Kirk H (1990) Analysing sperm competition data: simple models for predicting mechanisms. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 27:55–65Google Scholar
  23. Sokal RR, Rohlf FJ (1981) Biometry, 2nd edn. Freeman, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  24. Villavaso EJ (1975) Functions of the spermathecal muscle of the boll weevil, Anthonomus grandis. J Insect Physiol 21:1275–1278Google Scholar
  25. Wickler W (1985) Stepfathers in insects and their pseudo-parental investment. Z Tierpsychol 69:72–78Google Scholar
  26. Wilson K, Hill L (1989) Factors affecting egg maturation in the bean weevil Callosobruchus maculatus. Physiol Entomol 14:115–126Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Eady
    • 1
  1. 1.Ecology CentreUniversity of SunderlandSunderlandU.K.

Personalised recommendations