Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Male bushcrickets are in charge when it comes to sex

Date:
December 14, 2012
Source:
Universitaet Bielefeld
Summary:
All a question of timing: When bushcrickets mate, the male attaches a sticky package, the so-called spermatophore, to the female's abdomen. Alongside the sperm themselves, this 'bridal present' consists of a protein-rich mass that the female eats after mating. It then takes several hours for the sperm to find their way into the female's reproductive tract. But, who decides when that will happen? A new study suggests that it is the male who determines the dynamics of this process even when he has long 'hopped off' somewhere else.

Caught in the act: The spermatophores of male bushcrickets can attain up to 40 per cent of their bodyweight. The actual sperm transfer comes later – the Bielefeld researchers’ findings suggest that when that happens is something the male determines.
Credit: Klaus Reinhold

All a question of timing: When bushcrickets mate, the male attaches a sticky package, the so-called spermatophore, to the female's abdomen. Alongside the sperm themselves, this 'bridal present' consists of a protein-rich mass that the female eats after mating. It then takes several hours for the sperm to find their way into the female's reproductive tract. But, who decides when that will happen? A study by the Bielefeld biologists Professor Dr. Klaus Reinhold and Dr. Steven Ramm suggests that it is the male who determines the dynamics of this process even when he has long 'hopped off' somewhere else.

They published their results at the beginning of December in the online first version of the journal Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology.

In contrast to direct sperm transfer, the use of a spermatophore could grant the female more influence over the fertilization or non-fertilization of her eggs. However, the results of the Bielefeld study cast doubt on this assumption. They suggest a high degree of male control over this decisive stage in reproduction. For their study, Professor Dr. Klaus Reinhold and Dr. Steven Ramm from Bielefeld University paired males and females from two subspecies of the bushcricket Poecilimon veluchianus in whom the time between pairing and sperm transfer differ. Whereas in the subspecies Poecilimon veluchianus minor, sperm are transferred within the first three hours, the transfer in Poecilimon veluchianus veluchianus starts only after four hours. If the two subspecies are interbred -- the researchers thought -- then the number of transferred sperm after three hours would indicate whether it is the male or the female who determines how long this transfer takes.

The researchers mated nine to twelve pairs in each of the four possible combinations of Poecilimon veluchianus minor and Poecilimon veluchianus veluchianus. Three hours after mating, they examined how many sperm they could find in the female's reproductive tract. The result: the sperm from the males of the 'faster' subspecies Poecilimon veluchianus minor could be found in the females of both subspecies. In contrast, the males in the 'slower' sub-species Poecilimon veluchianus veluchianus had transferred almost no sperm at all to either type of female.

The researchers conclude from this experiment that the males control the speed of transfer over the sperm package. However, this does not automatically lead to the conclusion that the female is powerless. Females can also influence whether sperms are transferred by how quickly they eat the spermatophore. In addition, the larger the male, the larger the size of the sperm package, and this influences how long the females need to consume the protein. As a result, the sperm have more time to transfer to the female -- and the female's eggs have a greater chance of being fertilized by a 'high-quality' male. Professor Reinhold stresses, 'Our findings show that the females do not determine the transfer -- not that they could not do so.'


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Klaus Reinhold, Steven A. Ramm. Male control of sperm transfer dynamics in a spermatophore-donating bushcricket. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 2012; DOI: 10.1007/s00265-012-1459-4

Cite This Page:

Universitaet Bielefeld. "Male bushcrickets are in charge when it comes to sex." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121214091020.htm>.
Universitaet Bielefeld. (2012, December 14). Male bushcrickets are in charge when it comes to sex. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121214091020.htm
Universitaet Bielefeld. "Male bushcrickets are in charge when it comes to sex." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121214091020.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How to Make Single Serving Smoothies: Howdini Hacks

How to Make Single Serving Smoothies: Howdini Hacks

Howdini (July 24, 2014) Smoothies are a great way to get in lots of healthy ingredients, plus they taste great! Howdini has a trick for making the perfect single-size smoothie that will save you time on cleanup too! All you need is a blender and a mason jar. Video provided by Howdini
Powered by NewsLook.com
Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) An 8-year-old boy is bitten in the leg by a shark while vacationing at a Florida beach. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A new study claims a set of prehistoric T-Rex footprints supports the theory that the giant predators hunted in packs instead of alone. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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