Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 64, Issue 4, pp 617–625 | Cite as

Genital shape correlates with sperm transfer success in the praying mantis Ciulfina klassi (Insecta: Mantodea)

  • Gregory I. Holwell
  • Claire Winnick
  • Tom Tregenza
  • Marie E. Herberstein
Original Paper


The rapid divergence of male genitalia is a widely observed evolutionary phenomenon. Although sexual selection is currently regarded as providing the most likely driving force behind genital diversification, the mechanisms responsible are still debated. Here, we investigate the relationship between male genital morphology and sperm transfer in the praying mantid Ciulfina klassi using geometric morphometrics. The shape of male genitalia in C. klassi influenced sperm transfer duration and the number and proportion of sperm transferred, suggesting that genital morphology is under sexual selection in this species. Genital size however was not correlated with any aspect of sperm transfer. Intriguingly, two of the major genital shape components correlated positively with the number of sperm transferred, but negatively with sperm transfer duration. Hence, males that most effectively transfer sperm to the female spermatheca do so in a relatively short period of time. A direct negative relationship was also found between sperm transfer duration and sperm transfer success. Overall, our study suggests that the variable genital shape of Ciulfina may have been selected for more efficient sperm transfer.


Genital evolution Sexual selection Copulation duration 



We wish to thank Kate Umbers and Stuart Allen for assistance with field collection of mantids. We also thank Ray Cameron and Peter Tung for assistance with digital imaging. We particularly thank Luke Finley for morphometric advice and anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on this manuscript. This research adhered to the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour/Animal Behavior Society Guidelines for the Use of Animals in Research, Australian legal requirements and Macquarie University animal ethic guidelines. Funding was provided by the Australian Research Council (DP0662873) and Macquarie University.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gregory I. Holwell
    • 1
    • 2
  • Claire Winnick
    • 1
  • Tom Tregenza
    • 3
  • Marie E. Herberstein
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.School of Biological SciencesThe University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  3. 3.Centre for Ecology and Conservation, School of BiosciencesUniversity of ExeterPenrynUK

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