Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Role Reversal: Male Gets Easy Ride In Insect Courtship

Date:
July 30, 2003
Source:
University Of Melbourne
Summary:
University of Melbourne scientists in collaboration with a Swedish colleague have found a tiny voracious water bug where the female of the species lays all this on for their male partner, the first time such nuptial behaviour, at least the food for sex part, has ever been observed in female animals.

As a male, how does free transport, free food and, as a bonus for your hard work, unlimited sex with your chosen female partner sound?

Related Articles


Well, University of Melbourne scientists in collaboration with a Swedish colleague have found a tiny voracious water bug where the female of the species lays all this on for their male partner, the first time such nuptial behaviour, at least the food for sex part, has ever been observed in female animals.

Their findings will appear in the next issue of Nature (24 July 2003).

Evolution has generally dictated that it is usually the male that lavishes the female with expensive gifts (usually food) and often risks life and limb to secure the opportunity to pass on his genes to the next generation. Females are typically choosy, picking only the best males while also getting enough food to ensure their offspring are well fed and inherit the quality attributes from their father.

The tiny Zeus bug (Phoreticovelia disparata) is a water skater common along Australia's east coast. Its behaviour, which defies this norm, has scientists baffled.

"All the advantages in this relationship seem to fall to the male with no obvious advantage for the female, yet the female Zeus bug seems a willing partner in this one-sided affair," says paper author, Dr. Mark Elgar, University of Melbourne Department of Zoology.

The male Zeus bug at about 1mm in length and half the size of the female will piggy-back on his female mate, seating himself comfortably in a seemingly custom-made hollow. During the ride, the male sups on an all-you-can-eat protein-packed wax the female secretes from a gland near her head. All that remains for the male is to get down to the serious business of mating with the female.

"The male can ride the female, feeding and mating for up to a week," says Elgar

"The female usually produces the wax feed when a male is riding her and she will continue to produce it for as long as the male remains, yet once deposited, his sperm will allow her to continually produce batches of fertile eggs for up to two weeks," he says.

So why do females let the male stay onboard? What does the female get for continually expending precious energy to feed and carry around the male?

While they can only speculate at this stage, the biologists suggest that by keeping one male for long periods, possibly for the duration of her reproductive life, the female will expend less energy than she would if she tried throwing off the male after he deposited his sperm, only to have another amorous male start harassing her for a free ride.

"A constant stream of suitors wanting to participate in a polygamous free-for-all could possibly lead to greater harassment, leading to the female expending more energy and placing herself at greater risk of harm than if she doted on just the one male," says Elgar.

"For the male, while it seems he may be putting all his eggs in one basket by remaining faithful, by doing so he is ensuring that his sperm rather than his rival's sperm is being used," he says.

"The finding gives us a new perspective on how mating behaviours have evolved and been maintained."

**NB According to legend, Zeus consumed his first wife Metis.

Dr. Mark Elgar and Dr. Therιsa Jones (University of Melbourne) collaborated on this project with Gφran Arnqvist, University of Uppsala, Sweden.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Melbourne. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Melbourne. "Role Reversal: Male Gets Easy Ride In Insect Courtship." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 July 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/07/030725080035.htm>.
University Of Melbourne. (2003, July 30). Role Reversal: Male Gets Easy Ride In Insect Courtship. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/07/030725080035.htm
University Of Melbourne. "Role Reversal: Male Gets Easy Ride In Insect Courtship." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/07/030725080035.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) — Take a stab at this -- stunt video shows a lamb chop's journey from an east London restaurant over 30 kilometers into space. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins