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The effects of age at mating on female life-history traits in a seed beetle

Summary: The effects of age at mating on female
life-history traits in a seed beetle
Alexei A. Maklakov, Natacha Kremer, and Go¨ran Arnqvist
Animal Ecology, Department of Ecology and Evolution, Evolutionary Biology Centre, University of
Uppsala, Norbyva¨gen 18d, SE-752 36 Uppsala, Sweden
Age at first reproduction is an important component of life history across taxa and can ultimately affect fitness. Because genetic
interests of males and females over reproductive decisions commonly differ, theory predicts that conflict may arise over the
temporal distribution of matings. To determine the potential for such sexual conflict, we studied the direct costs and benefits
associated with mating at different times for females, using seed beetles (Acanthoscelides obtectus) as a model system. Virgin females
were resistant to male mating attempts at a very early age but subsequently reduced their resistance. Although we found no
difference in life span or mortality rates between females mated early in life and those mated later, females that mated early in life
suffered a 12% reduction in lifetime fecundity. Thus, there are direct costs associated with mating early in life for females. Yet,
males mate even with newly hatched females. We suggest that these data indicate a potential for sexual conflict over the timing of
first mating and that female resistance to mating, at least in part, may represent a female strategy aimed at delaying mating to
a later time in life. Key words: age at reproduction, cost of reproduction, female resistance, life history, lifetime reproductive
success, longevity, senescence. [Behav Ecol 18:551­555 (2007)]
Age at first reproduction has profound effects on fitness
(e.g., Stearns 1992; Chilton et al. 1993; Moore PJ and
Moore AJ 2001; Torres-Vila et al. 2002; Kruger 2005; Omkar
et al. 2006), mating preferences (Moore PJ and Moore AJ


Source: Arnqvist, Göran - Department of Animal Ecology, Uppsala Universitet


Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology