The effects of gregarine parasites, body size, and time of day on spermatophore production and sexual selection in field crickets

TitleThe effects of gregarine parasites, body size, and time of day on spermatophore production and sexual selection in field crickets
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1987
AuthorsZuk M
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Volume21
Pagination65-72
KeywordsSEXUAL
Abstract

In laboratory experiments measuring the rate of spermatophore production in the field crickets Gryllus veletis and G. pennsylvanicus by confining single males with a conspecific female, 0-10 spermatophores were produced by each male within 24 h. The number of spermatophores produced was unrelated to a male's body size, but was significantly negatively correlated with the natural levels of gregarines, a protozoan gut parasite, in the males. Spermatophore production in the laboratory peaked between 0600 and 1000 h, as did the proportion of courtship songs given by male crickets in the field, suggesting that mating may occur more frequently in the morning. When single males were placed in jars with two conspecific females, 49% transferred spermatophores to both females, whereas 51% of males only gave spermatophores to one of the females. The results support the hypothesis that parasites are important in sexual selection, and are used to propose a new interpretation of post-copulatory guarding in crickets.