The effects of exposure to seaweed on willingness to mate, oviposition, and longevity in seaweed flies



Dunn DW, Crean CS & Gilburn A (2002) The effects of exposure to seaweed on willingness to mate, oviposition, and longevity in seaweed flies. Ecological Entomology, 27 (5), pp. 554-564.

1. Large male seaweed flies (Diptera: Coelopidae) are more likely to mate than smaller males. This is due to sexual conflict over mating, by which females physically resist male attempts to copulate. In some species, large males are simply more efficient at overpowering female resistance. 2. Female reluctance to mate is likely to have evolved due to the costs of mating to females. In many dipterans, males manipulate female behaviour through seminal proteins that have evolved through sperm competition. This behavioural manipulation can be costly to females, for example forcing females to oviposit in sub-optimal conditions and increasing their mortality. 3. Previous work has failed to identify any ubiquitous costs of mating to female coelopids. The work reported here was designed to investigate the effects of exposure to oviposition sites (Fucus algae) on the reproductive behaviour of four species of coelopid. Algae deposition in nature is stochastic and females mate with multiple males in and around oviposition sites. Spermatogenesis is restricted to the pupal stage and there is last-male sperm precedence. It was predicted that males would avoid wasting sperm and would be more willing to mate, and to remain paired with females for longer, when exposed to oviposition material compared with control males. Females were predicted to incur longevity costs of mating if mating increased their rate of oviposition, especially in the presence of algae. 4. The behaviour of males of all four species concurred with the predictions; however mating did not affect female receptivity, oviposition behaviour, or longevity. Exposure to algae induced oviposition and increased female mortality in all species independently of mating and egg production. The evolutionary ecology of potential costs of mating to female coelopids are discussed in the light of these findings.

Coelopa frigida; costs of mating; mate choice; sexual conflict

Ecological Entomology: Volume 27, Issue 5

Publication date31/10/2002
Publication date online10/09/2002
PublisherWiley-Blackwell for the Royal Entomological Society

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Dr Andre Gilburn

Dr Andre Gilburn

Senior Lecturer, Biological and Environmental Sciences