Male Reproductive Reserves in Relation to Mating System in Butterflies: A Comparative Study
Females mate several times in many butterfly species. In these so called polyandrous butterflies, males deliver heavier and more nutrient rich ejaculates than males in species where females mate only once. Recent studies show that polyandry in butterflies functions as a system where males transfer nutrients which the female is in short supply of, and is later used by females to boost reproductive performance and somatic maintenance. This suggests that males in polyandrous species are selected for having reproductive reserves of `high quality', i.e. relatively high levels of a material important for female reproductive output. Nitrogen was chosen as a suitable nutrient to measure because it is likely to be important for reproductive success and is a limiting nutrient for most herbivores. The result, obtained by using both directional and non-directional phylogenetic methods, shows that males in polyandrous species have higher amounts of nitrogen in their abdomens.
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B
- Pub Date:
- February 1996