Sex peptide receptor-regulated polyandry modulates the balance of pre- and post-copulatory sexual selection in Drosophila.
Morimoto J., McDonald GC., Smith E., Smith DT., Perry JC., Chapman T., Pizzari T., Wigby S.
Polyandry prolongs sexual selection on males by forcing ejaculates to compete for fertilisation. Recent theory predicts that increasing polyandry may weaken pre-copulatory sexual selection on males and increase the relative importance of post-copulatory sexual selection, but experimental tests of this prediction are lacking. Here, we manipulate the polyandry levels in groups of Drosophila melanogaster by deletion of the female sex peptide receptor. We show that groups in which the sex-peptide-receptor is absent in females (SPR-) have higher polyandry, and - as a result - weaker pre-copulatory sexual selection on male mating success, compared to controls. Post-copulatory selection on male paternity share is relatively more important in SPR- groups, where males gain additional paternity by mating repeatedly with the same females. These results provide experimental evidence that elevated polyandry weakens pre-copulatory sexual selection on males, shifts selection to post-copulatory events, and that the sex peptide pathway can play a key role in modulating this process in Drosophila.