Journal of Ethology

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 103–109 | Cite as

Ritual behaviors associated with spermatophore transfer in Deuterosminthurus bicinctus (Collembola: Bourletiellidae)

  • Marek Wojciech KozlowskiEmail author
  • Shi Aoxiang
Video Article


The springtail Deuterosminthurus bicinctus, similarly to other members of Bourletiellidae, use their antennae, legs or heads to monopolize, stimulate, and direct female partners to spermatophores. The mating behavior of this species was examined by analysis of video recordings made on the leaves of its host plant. The characteristic stages of the behavioral sequence leading to sperm transfer were (1) preliminary courtship, highly variable in time and intensity—a male (rarely a female) endeavors to recruit a partner for further courtship, (2) push-and-retreat ritual—a rigid and rhythmical head-to-head “dance” of both partners, composed of some 180 phases and interspersed by several (3) “free turns” of a male and ended by (4) spermatophore deposition in front of a female, followed by stimulation of a female by a male to walk over the spermatophore, (5) spermatophore pick-up by a female with her gonopore, or alternately, (6) total spermatophore consumption by a female, as happened in 29% of the observed pairs. The mating ended always with (7) competition by both partners for the consumption of spermatophore residuals, usually won by the female. Comparison of mating elements and morphological features of partners engaged in mating sessions that ended either with spermatophore pick-up or consumption did not reveal any substantial differences. This suggests that changes in female motivation (hunger, state of impregnation) may be crucial for the male success in sperm transfer to a female. A digital video image is available at


Springtails Deuterosminthurus bicinctus Bourletiellidae Mating Spermatophore transfer Spermatophore consumption 



Our debt is due to Gerhard Bretfeld, Steve P. Hopkin, Nick Birch and an anonymous reviewer who all critically discussed essential topics in our work as well as to Majka Sterzynska who directed us to valuable literature sources.


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Copyright information

© Japan Ethological Society and Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Applied EntomologyWarsaw Agricultural University SGGWWarsawPoland

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