Effects of mating history on ejaculate size, fecundity, longevity, and copulation duration in the ant-tended lycaenid butterfly, Jalmenus evagoras

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The mating system of the Australian lycaenid butterfly, Jalmenus evagoras, is highly unusual compared to most other Lepidoptera. Characteristics of this system, which has been termed an 'explosive mating strategy,' include the formation of an intensely competitive mating aggregation of males, a highly male biased operational sex ratio, a lack of discrimination and mate choice by both sexes, a high variance in male mating success, and female monogamy. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that multiple mating by males imposes physiological costs resulting in smaller spermatophores, and that this results in a fitness cost to females. We found that male J. evagoras transferred only 2.2% of their eclosion weight during their first mating, consistent with the hypothesis that males of monandrous species produce a relatively small investment. The wet weight of the ejaculate declined by an average of 27% at the second mating and the dry weight by 29%, and an intermating interval of 5-9 days was needed for the ejaculate to return to the size at the first mating, regardless of male size or age. Wet ejaculate mass increased proportionally with male size, though dry mass was proportionally larger in smaller males. Ejaculate mass tended to increase with male age at both first and second matings. Female characteristics, in general, did not affect ejaculate mass, although the wet weight of the ejaculate was positively associated with female weight at the second mating. Copulation duration increased from 2.4 h to approximately 3 h at the second mating, and to over 4 h at the third and fourth matings. Fecundity was positively correlated with female size but not with mating history, copulation duration, or any other characteristics measured for either males or females. Female longevity declined significantly as the number of times the male partner had previously mated increased. We conclude that despite the small male investment in ejaculate, the costs of multiple mating may nonetheless be significant, as indicated by the reduction in ejaculate mass, an increase in copulation duration, and reduction in female lifespan with increasing mating number.


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Last updated on 12/22/2015