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J Evol Biol. 2004 Mar;17(2):443-52.

Sexual conflict and cooperation under naturally occurring male enforced monogamy.

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School of Biological Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.


An evolutionary conflict often exists between the sexes in regard to female mating patterns. Females can benefit from polyandry, whereas males mating with polyandrous females lose reproductive opportunities because of sperm competition. Where this conflict occurs, the evolution of mechanisms whereby males can control female remating, often at a fitness cost to the female, are expected to evolve. The fitness cost to the female will be increased in systems where a few high status males monopolise mating opportunities and thus have limited sperm supplies. Here we show that in the cockroach Nauphoeta cinerea, a species where males enforce female monogamy in the first reproductive cycle, males that have become sperm depleted continue to be able to manipulate female remating behaviour. Although the manipulation severely decreases fecundity in females mated to sperm-depleted males, males benefit, increasing their relative fitness by preventing other males from reproducing. Our results suggest that there is selection on maintaining the mechanism of manipulation rather than maintaining sperm numbers. Taken with previous research on sexual conflict in N. cinerea, this study suggests that the causes and consequences of sexual conflict are complex and can change across the life history of an individual.

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