Effects of broken male intromittent organs on the sperm storage capacity of female earwigs, Euborellia plebeja

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Abstract

In earwigs of the family Anisolabididae, male intromittent organs (virgae) sometimes break off inside female sperm-storage organs (spermathecae) during mating. I examined the effects of this genital breakage on the sperm storage capacity of females using Euborellia plebeja as a representative species. When genital breakage was artificially induced in virgin females, subsequent males successfully inseminated these females. However the sperm-storage capacity of these females was limited by the presence of broken virgae in their spermathecae. In another experiment, genital breakage was experimentally induced in the spermathecae of inseminated females, and their reproductive performance was then monitored for 60 days. In all of four cases where the entire piece of the broken virga remained inside the spermatheca, females deposited fertile eggs (more than 60% hatchability). The average number of clutches, that of eggs laid, and that of hatchlings were similar to those of controls. On the other hand, females laid no eggs in the other two cases where the broken virgae protruded from the spermathecal opening. I discuss the relevance of the results to the mating system and possible removal of rival sperm, which has been reported for E. plebeja.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-35
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Ethology
Volume21
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2003 Feb 24

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Keywords

  • Earwig
  • Genitalia
  • Insemination
  • Sperm removal
  • Sperm storage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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