Multiple mating by females is widespread and generates sperm competition among the ejaculates of rival males over fertilization. One way in which males can avoid or reduce sperm competition is by displacing or removing previous males’ sperm from female sperm stores. An apparent example of this occurs in the bushcricket Metaplastes ornatus. Males perform a specialised sperm removal behaviour (SRB), using their highly-derived subgenital plate, with which they remove sperm from the female’s spermatheca during the early phases of mating before transferring a spermatophore of their own. Here we investigated whether males strategically invest in SRB according to the amount of previously stored sperm present in females. Each male was tested twice, once with a female containing sperm (‘filled’ condition) and once with a female from whom most previously deposited sperm had recently been removed by another male (‘emptied’ condition). For comparison, a separate group of males was paired with virgin females. Males did not discriminate between non-virgin females in the ‘emptied’ or ‘filled’ conditions in terms of their investment in SRB, suggesting they may not able to perceive the amount of sperm present in the female’s spermatheca. By contrast, male investment in SRB was significantly reduced in pairings with virgin females, indicating that males are sensitive to some aspect of a female’s mating status. Our results thus suggest that males modulate SRB in response to female-mediated cues, possibly chemical cues left by previous males, which would not be present on virgin but would be on non-virgin females.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant unlimited access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Andrés J, Cordero Rivera A (2000) Copulation duration and fertilization success in a damselfly: an example of cryptic female choice? Anim Behav 59:695–703. doi:10.1006/anbe.1999.1372
Birkhead TR, Møller AP (1998) Sperm competition and sexual selection. Academic Press
Birkhead TR, Hosken DJ, Pitnick SS (2008) Sperm biology: an evolutionary perspective. Academic Press
Dewsbury DA (1982) Ejaculate cost and male choice. Am Nat 119(5):601–610
Friberg U (2006) Male perception of female mating status: its effect on copulation duration, sperm defence and female fitness. Anim Behav 72(6):1259–1268
Heller KG, Faltin S, Fleischmann P, von Helversen O (1998) The chemical composition of the spermatophore in some species of phaneropterid bushcrickets (Orthoptera: Tettigonioidea). J Insect Physiol 44:1001–1008. doi:10.1016/S0022-1910(97)00171-6
Lane SM, Solino JH, Mitchell C, Blount JD, Okada K, Hunt J, House CM (2015) Rival male chemical cues evoke changes in male pre- and post-copulatory investment in a flour beetle. Behav Ecol 26:1021–1029. doi:10.1093/beheco/arv047
Lehmann GU (2012) Weighing costs and benefits of mating in bushcrickets (Insecta: Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae), with an emphasis on nuptial gifts, protandry and mate density. Front Zool 9(1):19. doi:10.1186/1742-9994-9-19
Parker GA (1970) Sperm competition and its evolutionary consequences in the insects. Biol Rev 45:525–567. doi:10.1111/j.1469-185X.1970.tb01176.x
Parker GA (1998) Sperm competition and the evolution of ejaculates: towards a theory base. In: Birkhead TR, Møller AP (eds) Sperm competition and sexual selection. Academic Press, London, p 3–54
Parker GA, Birkhead TR (2013). Polyandry: the history of a revolution. Phil Trans R Soc B 368(1613). doi:10.1098/rstb.2012.0335
Pavićević D, Ivković S, Horvat L (2014) New and rare species of orthopteroid insects in the fauna of Serbia. Fauna Balk 3:103–122
Scharf I, Peter F, Martin OY (2013) Reproductive trade-offs and direct costs for males in arthropods. Evol Biol 40:169–184. doi:10.1007/s11692-012-9213-4
Shuker DM, Simmons LW (2014) The evolution of insect mating systems. Oxford University Press
Thomas ML (2011) Detection of female mating status using chemical signals and cues. Biol Rev 86:1–13. doi:10.1111/j.1469-185X.2010.00130.x
Thomas ML, Simmons LW (2009) Male-derived cuticular hydrocarbons signal sperm competition intensity and affect ejaculate expenditure in crickets. Proc R Soc Lond [Biol] 276:383–388. doi:10.1098/rspb.2008.1206
von Helversen D, von Helversen O (1991) Pre-mating sperm removal in the bushcricket Metaplastes ornatus Ramme 1931 (Orthoptera, Tettigonoidea, Phaneropteridae). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 28:391–396. doi:10.1007/BF00164120
Wada T, Takegaki T, Mori T, Natsukari Y (2010) Sperm removal, ejaculation and their 391 behavioural interaction in male cuttlefish in response to female mating history. Anim Behav 79:613–619. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2009.12.004
Wedell N, Gage MJG, Parker GA (2002) Sperm competition, male prudence and sperm limited females. Trends Ecol Evol 17:313–320. doi:10.1016/S0169-5347(02)02533-8
We would like to thank Ralf Jochmann for providing video material of the animals and three anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on previous versions of the manuscript.
About this article
Cite this article
Foraita, M., Lehfeldt, S., Reinhold, K. et al. Strategic Investment in Sperm Removal Behaviour in a Bushcricket. J Insect Behav 30, 170–179 (2017) doi:10.1007/s10905-017-9608-2
- Insect reproduction
- sperm competition
- bush cricket
- cryptic mate choice