Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 619–631 | Cite as

The Effect of Abdominal Spines on Female Mating Frequency and Fecundity in a Water Strider

  • Katri Ronkainen
  • Arja Kaitala
  • Riikka Huttunen


Conflict between the sexes over mating decision may result in antagonistic coevolution in structures that increase control over copulation. In Aquarius paludum both females and males have long abdominal spines. We tested the hypothesis that abdominal spines increase female ability to resist male mating attempts and reduce the costs of mating in A. paludum. We manipulated female spine length and observed female mating and egg-production rate in two different studies. We found that females with intact spines succeeded to reject male mating attempt more often than females with removed spines. Intact females also mated less often than females with removed or shortened spines. Male presence and mating rate increased female egg number. Our results thus support the hypothesis that abdominal spines help female to reject male mating attempts but contrary to predictions, we found that A. paludum females somehow benefit from multiple matings in spite of the sexual conflict.


sexual conflict sexual selection water striders evolutionary arms race egg production 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Andersen, N. M. (1982). The Semiaquatic Bugs (Hemiptera, Gerromorpha): Phylogeny, Adaptations, Biogeography and Classification. Entomonograph 3, Scandinavian Science Press, Klampenborg, Denmark.Google Scholar
  2. Andersen, N. M. (1993). Classification, phylogeny, and zoogeography of the pond skater genus Gerris fabricius (Hemiptera, Gerridae). Can. J. Zool. 71: 2473–2508.Google Scholar
  3. Andersen, N. M. (1997). A phylogenetic analysis of the evolution of sexual dimorphism and mating systems in water striders (Hemiptera: Gerridae). Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 61: 345–368.Google Scholar
  4. Arnqvist, G. (1989a). Multiple mating in water strider: Mutual benefits or intersexual conflict? Anim. Behav. 38: 749–756.Google Scholar
  5. Arnqvist, G. (1989b). Sexual selection in a water strider: The function, mechanism of selection and heritability of a male grasping apparatus. Oikos 56: 344–350.Google Scholar
  6. Arnqvist, G. (1992). Pre-copulatory fighting in a water strider: Intersexual conflict or mate assessment? Anim. Behav. 43: 559–567.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Arnqvist, G. (1997). The evolution of water strider mating systems: Causes and consequences of sexual conflicts. In Choe, J. C., and Crespi, B. J. (eds.), The Evolution of Mating Systems in Insects and Arachnids, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, pp. 146–163.Google Scholar
  8. Arnqvist, G., and Nilsson, T. (2000). The evolution of polyandry: Multiple mating and female fitness in insects. Anim. Behav. 60: 145–164.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Arnqvist, G., and Rowe, L. (1995). Sexual conflict and arms races between the sexes: A morphological adaptation for control of mating in a female insect. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. Ser. B 261: 123–127.Google Scholar
  10. Arnqvist, G., and Rowe, L. (2002). Correlated evolution of male and female morphologies in water striders. Evolution 56: 936–947.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Bateman, A. J. (1948). Intra-sexual selection in drosophila. Heredity 2: 349–368.Google Scholar
  12. Chapman, T., Arnqvist, A., Bangham, J., and Rowe, L. (2003). Sexual conflict. TREE 18: 41–47Google Scholar
  13. Chen, P. S. (1984). The functional morphology and biochemistry of insect male accessory glands and their secretions. Ann. Rev. Entom. 29: 233–255.Google Scholar
  14. Daly, M. (1978). The cost of mating. Am. Nat. 112: 771–774.Google Scholar
  15. Fairbairn, D. J. (1993). Cost of loading associated with mate-carrying in the water strider, Aquarius regimis. Behav. Ecol. 4: 224–231.Google Scholar
  16. Gromko, M. H., Newport, M. E., and Kortier, M. G. (1984). Sperm dependence of female reproductive success in bushcrickets. Evolution 38: 1273–1282.Google Scholar
  17. Hurst, G. D. D., Sharpe, R. G., Bloomfield, A. H., Walker, L. E., Majerus, T. M. O., Zacharov, I. A., and Maherus, M. E. N. (1995). Sexually transmitted disease in a promiscuous insect, Adalia bipunctata. Ecol. Ent. 20: 230–236.Google Scholar
  18. Kaitala, A. (1987). Dynamic life-history strategy of the waterstrider Gerris thoracicus as an adaptation to food and habitat variation. Oikos 48: 125–131.Google Scholar
  19. Opp, S. B., and Propoky, R. J. (1986). Variation in laboratory oviposition by Rhagoletis pomonella (Diptera: Tephitidae) in relation to mating status. Ann. Ent. Soc. Am. 79: 705–710.Google Scholar
  20. Parker, G. A. (1979). Sexual selection and sexual conflict. In Blum, M. S., and Blum, N. A. (eds.), Sexual Selection and Reproductive Competition in Insects, Academic Press, New York, pp. 123–166.Google Scholar
  21. Rowe, L. (1992). Convenience polyandry in a water strider: Foraging conflicts and female control of copulation frequency and guarding duration. Anim. Behav. 44: 189–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Rowe, L., and Arnqvist, G. (2002). Sexually antagonistic coevolution in a mating system: Combining experimental and comparative approaches to address evolutionary processes. Evolution 56: 754–767.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Rowe, L., Arnqvist, G., Sih, A., and Krupa, J. J. (1994). Sexual conflict and the evolutionary ecology of mating patterns: Water striders as a model system. TREE 8: 289–293.Google Scholar
  24. Tabachnick, B. G., and Fidell, L. S. (1996). Using Multivariate Statistics, Addison-Wesley, Boston.Google Scholar
  25. Trivers, R. L. (1972). Parental investment and sexual selection. In Campbell, B. (ed.), Sexual Selection and the Descent of Man, Aldine, Chicago, pp. 1871–1971.Google Scholar
  26. Watson, P. J., Arnqvist, G., and Stallmann, R. R. (1998). Sexual conflict and the energetic costs of mating and mate choice in water striders. Am. Nat. 151: 46–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Wing, S. R. (1988). Cost of mating for female insects: Risk of predation in Photinus collustrans (Coleoptera, Lamyridae). Am. Nat. 131: 139–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Wolfner, M. F. (1997). Tokens of love: Functions and regulation of Drosophila male accessory glands products. Insect Biochem. Mol. Biol. 27: 179–192.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katri Ronkainen
    • 1
  • Arja Kaitala
    • 1
  • Riikka Huttunen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of OuluOuluFinland

Personalised recommendations