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The adaptive significance of female remating in seaweed flies, Coelopa frigida



The adaptive significance of female remating in seaweed flies, Coelopa frigida



Pakistan Journal of Zoology 26(4): 351-359



Various possible reasons for the evolution of female remating in seaweed flies, Coelopa frigida, were studied. It was shown, using eye colour variants, that females not only remate, but are extremely unlikely to remain mated only once. Female remating is female-controlled in that it is the female rejection rate that declines dramatically immediately following a copulation. No changes in the mount rate nor in male dismounting were observed. Female longevity, life-time fecundity and daily weight change were measured under various conditions of mating. No differences in longevity were seen between unmated females and those with continuous access to a single male. However, in the presence of five males, female longevity was significantly reduced. The fecundity of females was very much greater for mated females than for virgins (which readily lay unfertilized eggs). This increase in fecundity was a consequence of egg clutches being produced faster presumably because the rate of egg maturation was increased by mating. No evidence was obtained for any transfer of nutrients from the male during copulation. In the absence of food, there was no difference in the fecundity of mated and unmated females. It is suggested that either the act of copulation, or some seminal component present at low concentration is normally responsible for stimulating the female to feed. Repeated female remating appears to have evolved because a single insemination provides too few sperm to fertilize all her eggs, and because it leads to a substantial increase in female fecundity.

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