Male age, mating status and nuptial gift quality in a bushcricket

N Wedell, M G Ritchie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Female mate choice occurs in many animals, and in some species females prefer older males. Because older males have demonstrated their survival ability, they may be of higher genetic quality, providing genetic benefits to the offspring of their mates. However, in species where females receive direct benefits of matings, younger males maybe more likely to provide more fertile or more nutritious ejaculates, so females may discriminate against older males. Males of the bushcricket Ephippiger ephippiger (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae) produce large spermatophores at mating (>30% of body weight, circa 10% protein content). Female E. ephippiger discriminate against the song of older males. We examined the effects of male age and mating history on male reproductive investment (spermatophore size, sperm number, nitrogen content). Males produced spermatophores with significantly fewer sperm and of lower nitrogen content on their fourth mating, despite free access to food and a 1-week interval between matings, indicating that there is a cost of mating to males. There was no indication that older virgin males produced lower-quality spermatophores. Rather, older males produced bigger spermatophores of higher nutritional value and containing more sperm. Male age and mating history seem likely to be strongly correlated in the field. We conclude that female E. ephippiger probably prefer the songs of younger males, because in the field, this preference correlates with male mating history and therefore resources provided at mating. Thus, female preference for younger males could reflect discrimination against low-quality nuptial gifts. (C) 2004 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1059-1065
Number of pages7
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Volume67
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2004

Keywords

  • SPERM COMPETITION SELECTS
  • GOOD GENES
  • EPHIPPIGER-EPHIPPIGER
  • SEXUAL SELECTION
  • MATE CHOICE
  • OLDER MALES
  • ORTHOPTERA
  • TETTIGONIIDAE
  • BENEFITS
  • SUCCESS

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