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Rival male chemical cues evoke changes in male pre- and post-copulatory investment in a flour beetle

Lane, Sarah M., Solino, Joanna, Mitchell, Christopher, Blount, Jonathan D., Okada, Kensuke, Hunt, John and House, Clarissa M. (2015) 'Rival male chemical cues evoke changes in male pre- and post-copulatory investment in a flour beetle'. Behavioral Ecology, Vol 26, Issue 4, pp. 1021-1029.

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Males can gather information on the risk and intensity of sperm competition from their social environment. Recent studies have implicated chemosensory cues, for instance cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) in insects, as a key source of this information. Here, using the broad-horned flour beetle (Gnatocerus cornutus), we investigated the importance of contact-derived rival male CHCs in informing male perception of sperm competition risk and intensity. We experimentally perfumed virgin females with male CHCs via direct intersexual contact and measured male pre- and post-copulatory investment in response to this manipulation. Using chemical analysis, we verified
that this treatment engendered changes to perfumed female CHC profiles, but did not make perfumed females “smell” mated. Despite this, males responded to these chemical changes. Males increased courtship effort under low levels of perceived competition (from 1–3 rivals), but significantly decreased courtship effort as perceived competition rose (from 3–5 rivals). Furthermore, our measurement of ejaculate investment showed that males allocated significantly more sperm to perfumed females than to control females. Together, these results suggest that changes in female chemical profile elicited by contact with rival males do not provide males with information on female mating status, but rather inform males of the presence of rivals within the population and thus provide a means for males to indirectly assess the risk of sperm competition.
Key words: chemical cues; cuticular hydrocarbons; ejaculate expenditure; Gnatocerus cornutus; sperm competition risk

Item Type: Article
Subjects: QX Parasitology > QX 20 Research (General)
QX Parasitology > Insects. Other Parasites > QX 500 Insects
QX Parasitology > Insects. Other Parasites > QX 555 Coleoptera (Beetles)
QX Parasitology > Insects. Other Parasites > QX 650 Insect vectors
Faculty: Department: Biological Sciences > Vector Biology Department
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
Depositing User: Carmel Bates
Date Deposited: 20 Aug 2015 08:16
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2018 13:10


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