Male influence on sex allocation in the parasitoid wasp Nasonia vitripennis
Shuker DM., Sykes EM., Browning LE., Beukeboom LW., West SA.
Sex allocation is an important reproductive decision for parents. However, it is often assumed that females have substantial control over sex allocation decisions, and this is particularly true in haplodiploid insects, in which females apparently determine sex by deciding whether to fertilise an egg (and produce a diploid daughter) or not (and produce a haploid son). Mechanisms by which males may influence sex allocation are not so straightforward, and their potential influence on sex ratios has been somewhat neglected. Here, we test whether males influence offspring sex ratios in the parasitoid wasp Nasonia vitripennis. We show that some of the variation in observed sex ratios can be attributed to males when comparing the affect of male strain on sex ratio. We did not find among-male variation in sex ratio with a less powerful experiment using males from only one strain or an effect of male mating environment. Our data suggest that males can influence female sex ratios and contribute to the variation around the sex ratios optimal for females. However, the influence is not large, suggesting that females have more influence on sex allocation than do males. We conclude by considering whether male influences on sex ratio represent differences in male reproductive competence or deliberate attempts by males to increase their fitness by influencing daughter production. © Springer-Verlag 2005.