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Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc. 2008 May;83(2):151-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-185X.2008.00037.x.

An integrative view of sexual selection in Tribolium flour beetles.

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Department of Biology, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155, USA.


Sexual selection is a major force driving the evolution of diverse reproductive traits. This evolutionary process is based on individual reproductive advantages that arise either through intrasexual competition or through intersexual choice and conflict. While classical studies of sexual selection focused mainly on differences in male mating success, more recent work has focused on the differences in paternity share that may arise through sperm competition or cryptic female choice whenever females mate with multiple males. Thus, an integrative view of sexual selection needs to encompass processes that occur not only before copulation (pre-mating), but also during copulation (peri-mating), as well as after copulation (post-mating), all of which can generate differences in reproductive success. By encompassing mechanisms of sexual selection across all of these sequential reproductive stages this review takes an integrative approach to sexual selection in Tribolium flour beetles (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae), a particularly well-studied and economically important model organism. Tribolium flour beetles colonize patchily distributed grain stores, and juvenile and adult stages share the same food resources. Adults are highly promiscuous and female reproduction is distributed across an adult lifespan lasting approximately 1 year. While Tribolium males produce an aggregation pheromone that attracts both sexes, there appears to be little pre-mating discrimination among potential mates by either sex. However, recent work has revealed several peri-mating and post-mating mechanisms that determine how offspring paternity is apportioned among a female's mates. During mating, Tribolium females reject spermatophore transfer and limit sperm numbers transferred by males with low phenotypic quality. Although there is some conflicting evidence, male copulatory leg-rubbing appears to be associated with overcoming female resistance to insemination and does not influence a male's subsequent paternity share. Evidence suggests that Tribolium beetles have several possible post-mating mechanisms that they may use to bias paternity. Male sperm precedence has been extensively studied in Tribolium spp. and the related Tenebrio molitor, and several factors influencing male paternity share among a female's progeny have been identified. These include oviposition time, inter-mating interval, male strain/genotype, the mating regimen of a male's mother, male starvation, and tapeworm infection. Females exert muscular control over sperm storage, although there is no evidence to date that females use this to differentiate among mates. Females could also influence offspring paternity by re-mating with additional males, and T. castaneum females more readily accept spermatophores when they are re-mating with more attractive males. Additional work is needed to examine the possible roles played by both male and female accessory gland products in determining male paternity share. Sexual selection during pre-mating episodes may be reinforced or counteracted by peri- and post-copulatory selection, and antagonistic coevolution between the sexes may be played out across reproductive stages. In Tribolium, males' olfactory attractiveness is positively correlated with both insemination success and paternity share, suggesting consistent selection across different reproductive stages. Similar studies across sequential reproductive stages are needed in other taxa to provide a more integrative view of sexual selection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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