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Male attractiveness is negatively genetically associated with investment in copulations


  • Leif Engqvist


In species with high male mating effort, there is a trade-off between mating effort spent in a current mating and resources left for future matings. Males are therefore expected to allocate resources prudently across successive matings. Attractive males that will have a high mating success might therefore be forced to decrease mating investment in comparison with less-attractive males. Furthermore, if there is genetic variation in attractiveness, one might expect to find a negative genetic correlation between attractiveness and mating investment. Here, this genetic prediction is tested using the scorpionfly Panorpa cognata (Insecta: Mecoptera). In this species, males offer costly salivary secretions as nuptial gifts to females. By producing large secretions, males increase copulation duration and sperm transfer, thus gaining an advantage in sperm competition. I used a full-sib breeding design and found that both attractiveness and mating investment showed considerable heritability. Most importantly, there was a significant negative genetic correlation between attractiveness and mating investment: In families with attractive individuals, males produced smaller salivary secretions than in those with less-attractive males. The results thus demonstrate an important evolutionary trade-off between mating success and sperm competition success. Copyright 2011, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Leif Engqvist, 2011. "Male attractiveness is negatively genetically associated with investment in copulations," Behavioral Ecology, International Society for Behavioral Ecology, vol. 22(2), pages 345-349.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:beheco:v:22:y:2011:i:2:p:345-349

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bates, Douglas & M├Ąchler, Martin & Bolker, Ben & Walker, Steve, 2015. "Fitting Linear Mixed-Effects Models Using lme4," Journal of Statistical Software, Foundation for Open Access Statistics, vol. 67(i01).
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