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Fitness consequences of redundant cues of competition in male Drosophila melanogaster

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Abstract

Phenotypic plasticity can allow animals to adapt their behavior, such as their mating effort, to their social and sexual environment. However, this relies on the individual receiving accurate and reliable cues of the environmental conditions. This can be achieved via the receipt of multimodal cues, which may provide redundancy and robustness. Male Drosophila melanogaster detect presence of rivals via combinations of any two or more redundant cue components (sound, smell, and touch) and respond by extending their subsequent mating duration, which is associated with higher reproductive success. Although alternative combinations of cues of rival presence have previously been found to elicit equivalent increases in mating duration and offspring production, their redundancy in securing success under sperm competition has not previously been tested. Here, we explicitly test this by exposing male D. melanogaster to alternative combinations of rival cues, and examine reproductive success in both the presence and absence of sperm competition. The results supported previous findings of redundancy of cues in terms of behavioral responses. However, there was no evidence of reproductive benefits accrued by extending mating duration in response to rivals. The lack of identifiable fitness benefits of longer mating under these conditions, both in the presence and absence of sperm competition, contrasted with some previous results, but could be explained by (a) damage sustained from aggressive interactions with rivals leading to reduced ability to increase ejaculate investment, (b) presence of features of the social environment, such as male and female mating status, that obscured the fitness benefits of longer mating, and (c) decoupling of behavioral investment with fitness benefits.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5517-5526
Number of pages10
JournalEcology and Evolution
Volume10
Issue number12
Early online date4 May 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020
Peer-reviewedYes

Keywords

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  • behavioral plasticity, fruit fly, sperm competition

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