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Mating duration and sperm precedence in the spider Linyphia triangularis

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  • Ditte L. Weldingh, Univ. of Southern Denmark, Danmark
  • Søren Toft
  • Ole Næsbye Larsen, Univ. of Southern Denmark, Danmark
  • Genetik og Økologi, Biologisk Institut
In many animal species, mating behaviour is
highly ritualised, which may allow us to relate some of its
consequences, e.g. male paternity and female receptivity, to
the progression of phases in the mating sequence; at the
same time, ritualisation raises the question of to what extent
the partners, especially the males, are able to influence the
outcome of mating for their own benefit. We studied the
linyphiid spider Linyphia triangularis in which mating
follows a strict sequence during which the male inducts
two droplets of sperm and transfers them to the female. We
performed sperm competition experiments (sterile-male
technique) including four treatments, in which the copulation
of the first male was interrupted at prescribed phases of
the mating sequence, while the second male was allowed a
complete mating. Second males spent a shorter time than
first males on the behaviours prior to sperm transfer, but the
amount of sperm (2 droplets) and the time spent in sperm
transfer were independent of the females’ mating status.
The proportion of females accepting the second male
depended on the mating duration of the first male, i.e.
whether the first male had transferred one or two sperm
droplets. After a complete first mating, most females
accepted no further males. A last-male sperm precedence
was apparent if only half of the first sperm droplet had been
transferred by the first male, but this switched to a first male
precedence if one full sperm droplet had been transferred.
Thus, even in the face of sperm competition, it is sufficient
for the first male to transfer one sperm droplet. The second
sperm droplet and the extended copulatory courtship
associated with its transfer may serve to induce a lack of
receptivity in the female, but the males seem unable
to enhance their reproductive success through variable
copulatory tactics.
TidsskriftJournal of Ethology
Sider (fra-til)143-152
StatusUdgivet - 2011

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