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Emerging issues in the evolution of animal nuptial giftsLewis, Sara M.; Vahed, Karim; Koene, Joris M.; Bussiere, Luc F.; Gwynne, Darryl; Engqvist, Leif; Perry, Jennifer; Lehmann, Gerlind; Tufts University, Medford MA USA; University of Derby (The Royal Society, 2014-07-16)Uniquely positioned at the intersection of sexual selection, nutritional ecology and life-history theory, nuptial gifts are widespread and diverse. Despite extensive empirical study, we still have only a rudimentary understanding of gift evolution because we lack a unified conceptual framework for considering these traits. In this opinion piece, we tackle several issues that we believe have substantively hindered progress in this area. Here, we: (i) present a comprehensive definition and classification scheme for nuptial gifts (including those transferred by simultaneous hermaphrodites), (ii) outline evolutionary predictions for different gift types, and (iii) highlight some research directions to help facilitate progress in this field.
Increased copulation duration before ejaculate transfer is associated with larger spermatophores, and male genital titillators, across bushcricket taxaVahed, Karim; Lehmann, Gerlind; Gilbert, James D. J.; Lehmann, A. W.; University of Derby (Wiley Blackwell, 2011-09)Copulation duration varies considerably across species, but few comparative studies have examined factors that might underlie such variation. We examined the relationship between copulation duration (prior to spermatophore transfer), the complexity of titillators (sclerotized male genital contact structures), spermatophore mass and male body mass across 54 species of bushcricket. Using phylogenetic comparative analyses, we found that copulation duration was much longer in species with titillators than those without, but it was not longer in species with complex compared with simple titillators. A positive relationship was found between spermatophore size and copulation duration prior to ejaculate transfer, which supports the hypothesis that this represents a period of mate assessment. The slope of this relationship was steeper in species with simple rather than complex titillators. Although the data suggest that the presence of titillators is necessary to maintain long copulation prior to ejaculate transfer, mechanisms underlying this association remain unclear.
Male genital titillators and the intensity of post-copulatory sexual selection across bushcricketsLehmann, Gerlind; Gilbert, James D. J.; Vahed, Karim; Lehmann, Arne W.; University of Derby; University of Hull; Humbolt University Berlin (Oxford University Press, 2017-07-10)Animal genitalia are diverse and a growing body of evidence suggests that they evolve rapidly under post-copulatory sexual selection. This process is predicted to be more intense in polyandrous species, although there have been very few comparative studies of the relationship between the complexity of genital structures in males and measures of the degree of polyandry. In some bushcricket families, males possess sclerotised copulatory structures known as titillators, which are inserted into the female’s genital chamber and moved rhythmically. Like other genital structures, bushcricket titillators are widely used as important taxonomic characters and show considerable variation across species in structure, shape and the extent to which they are spined. Here, we examine relationships between the presence/absence of titillators, titillator complexity and both mating frequency and the degree of polyandry in bushcrickets, using phylogenetic comparative analyses. Using published sources combined with original observations, data were obtained for the mean level of polyandry, the duration of the male and female sexual refractory periods and the level of complexity of titillators. To analyse data, we fitted phylogenetic generalised least squares models. No significant relationships were found between titillator presence or complexity and either the level of polyandry, duration of the male’s sexual refractory period or the ratio of the female and male sexual refractory periods. The duration of the female’s refractory period, however, was positively associated with titillator presence and negatively associated with titillator complexity. The data therefore partially support the hypothesis that post-copulatory sexual selection drives genital evolution in this taxon.