Distant lovers: spermatophore deposition and destruction behavior by male springtails.

E.M. Stam, J.A. Isaaks, G. Ernsting

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Males of the springtail Orchesella cincta transfer their sperm indirectly using spermatophores. The present study aimed to investigate how individual males maximize their reproductive success. In an experiment examining the role of chemical communication, it appeared that the males deposit their spermatophores preferentially on patches which have been conditioned with conspecifics. Varying conditioning intensity resulted in a response which can be described by a saturation curve. In a comparison involving a reIatedspecies the conditioning effect was strictly species specific. An experiment where the sexes were compared showed that conditioning with males exerts a slightly stronger effect than conditioning with females. In another experiment spermatophore depositing males showed a strong preference for patches with spermatophores of previous males, which they replaced with their own. An explanation for this may be that the males parasitize each other's scent marks. When a number of males are kept together they destroy most of each other's spermatophores. The destruction behavior is specifically displayed by males in their reproductive phase. Video recordings showed that deliberate destruction of spermatophores takes place by eating them and that the males are able to recognize and spare their own spermatophores.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)253-268
    JournalJournal of Insect Behavior
    Issue number(2)
    Publication statusPublished - 2002


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