Sexual behavior and factors affecting female reproduction in house and field crickets
Sakaluk, Scott Kitchener
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The objective of this investigation was to clarify the adaptive significance of female sexual behaviours in the house cricket, Acheta domesticus, and the Texas field cricket, Gryllus integer. Experiments were focussed primarily on: nutritional factors affecting female reproductive success; the ontogeny of female sexual behaviours; female mating frequency and progeny production; and the pattern of sperm competition. Reproduction of singly mated female A. domesticus assigned to 3 nutritional regimes was compared . Females fed a vitamin and protein-enriched mouse chow, cannibalistic females, and starved females produced on the average, 513 , 200 and 68 offspring, respectively. Cannibals probably could not obtain the same amounts of essential nutrients as females fed mouse chow. Reabsorption of oocytes was likely the major factor contributing to the decreased reproduction of starved females. In addition, female !. domesticus fed mouse chow, but allowed constant access to males produced 11 times as many offspring than did females fed corn meal. Females fed corn meal probably could not absorb or synthesize enough dietary lipids, thus resulting in poor ovariole growth. Female !. domesticus first mate at an average adult age of 7 days, closely corresponding to when they first exhibit positive phonotaxis. Females mate repeatedly and often consume the externally attached spermatophore. In ~. domesticus, females allowed constant access to males produced significantly more offspring than did single maters. Similarly, doubly mated G. integer females produced more offspring than did single maters. This difference resulted largely from the failure of many single maters to reproduce. Remating by female crickets partly functions in offsetting the possibility of a failed initial mating. Nymph production increased significantly with the time the spermatophore was attached in singly mated ~. domesticus. Spermatophore consumption by the female was not affected by male guarding behaviour, and the interval between mating and eating of the spermatophore may often be shorter than the time required for maximum insemination. Some degree of sperm depletion in singly mated !. domesticus and G. integer may have occurred. The patterns of daily offspring production of singly and multiplymated females suggests that a factor provided by a male during mating stimulates female oviposition and/or egg production. Female crickets also might acquire nutrition from spermatophore consumption, a benefit that is augmented by female multiple mating. The electrophoretic examination of various allozymes in ~. integer did not permit determination of a pattern of sperm competition. However, the possibility of last male sperm predominance is related to male guarding behaviour.