The Sciences

NCBI ROFL: On bushcrickets, genital titillators, and copulation time.

DiscoblogBy ncbi roflOct 28, 2011 11:00 PM
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Increased copulation duration before ejaculate transfer is associated with larger spermatophores, and male genital titillators, across bushcricket taxa. "Copulation duration varies considerably across species, but few comparative studies have examined factors that might underlie such variation. We examined the relationship between copulation duration (prior to spermatophore transfer), the complexity of titillators (sclerotized male genital contact structures), spermatophore mass and male body mass across 54 species of bushcricket. Using phylogenetic comparative analyses, we found that copulation duration was much longer in species with titillators than those without, but it was not longer in species with complex compared with simple titillators. A positive relationship was found between spermatophore size and copulation duration prior to ejaculate transfer, which supports the hypothesis that this represents a period of mate assessment. The slope of this relationship was steeper in species with simple rather than complex titillators. Although the data suggest that the presence of titillators is necessary to maintain long copulation prior to ejaculate transfer, mechanisms underlying this association remain unclear."

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