The mechanisms driving the coevolution of male and female genital morphologies are still debated. Female genitalia in Drosophila species bear membranous “pouches” or hardened “shields,” which the male genital armature contact during copulation. Although shield-like structures likely serve to mitigate the effects of harmful mating, some authors have suggested that soft pouches, which do not prevent male genitalia from inflicting wounds, represent a congruent sensory organ. To elucidate the evolutionary forces responsible for the development of such organs, I examined the effects of artificial damage to various genital parts of female Drosophila erecta on reproductive success. Despite a high survival rate among females, damage to the ovipositor plate resulted in frequent failure of insemination and in the embedment of eggs into the substrate. Damage to the vaginal shield resulted in increased mortality and frequent failure of egg embedment, with an egg blocking the vagina under the damaged shield in some females. Wounding of the pouch had less of an effect on both mating and oviposition success, suggesting that the structure “lures” the male trauma-causing organs to areas where the resultant wounds do not interfere with insemination or oviposition. These data show that the dual functions of female genitalia (mating and oviposition) mediate genital coevolution.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)