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J Evol Biol. 2011 Aug;24(8):1727-36. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2011.02299.x. Epub 2011 May 23.

Mating stimulates female feeding: testing the implications for the evolution of nuptial gifts.

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1
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada. jennifer.perry@zoo.ox.ac.uk

Abstract

Nutritional benefits from nuptial gifts have been difficult to detect in some species, raising the question: what maintains nuptial feeding when gifts do not benefit females? The sensory trap hypothesis proposes that nuptial feeding may be explained by pre-existing sensory responses that predispose females to ingest gifts. Recent studies have shown that male seminal proteins can induce a nonspecific increase in female feeding after mating, which may represent a sensory trap for nuptial feeding if it results in increased intake of post-mating gifts. I tested these ideas using female beetles that ingest a spermatophore after mating. I show that males stimulate strongly increased female feeding post-mating. However, there was little evidence for dose dependence in the feeding response that could allow males to stimulate feeding beyond the female optimum. Moreover, the post-mating feeding response could not explain nuptial feeding: despite feeding more in general, newly mated females were less likely than nonmated females to ingest spermatophore gifts.

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