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 31, 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 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Peace Corps Pulls Workers From W. Africa Over Ebola Fears

Peace Corps Pulls Workers From W. Africa Over Ebola Fears

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Peace Corps is one of several U.S.-based organizations to pull workers out of West Africa because of the Ebola outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
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