Ejaculate depletion patterns evolve in response to experimental manipulation of sex ratio in Drosophila melanogaster.
Linklater JR., Wertheim B., Wigby S., Chapman T.
We assessed the extent to which traits related to ejaculate investment have evolved in lines of Drosophila melanogaster that had an evolutionary history of maintenance at biased sex ratios. Measures of ejaculate investment were made in males that had been maintained at male-biased (MB) and female-biased (FB) adult sex ratios, in which levels of sperm competition were high and low, respectively. Theory predicts that when the risk of sperm competition is high and mating opportunities are rare (as they are for males in the MB populations), males should increase investment in their few matings. We therefore predicted that males from the MB lines would (1) exhibit increased investment in their first mating opportunities and (2) deplete their ejaculates at a faster rate when mating multiply, in comparison to FB males. To investigate these predictions we measured the single mating productivity of males from three replicates each of MB and FB lines mated to five wild-type virgin females in succession. In contrast to the first prediction, there was no evidence for differences in productivity between MB and FB line males in their first matings. The second prediction was upheld: mates of MB and FB males suffered increasingly reduced productivity with successive matings, but the decline was significantly more pronounced for MB than for FB males. There was a significant reduction in the size of the accessory glands and testes of males from the MB and FB regimes after five successive matings. However, the accessory glands, but not testes, of MB males became depleted at a significantly faster rate than those of FB males. The results show that male reproductive traits evolved in response to the level of sperm competition and suggest that the ability to maintain fertility over successive matings is associated with the rate of ejaculate, and particularly accessory gland, depletion.