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Data from: Male spiders reduce pre- and postmating sexual investment in response to sperm competition risk

Citation

Tuni, Cristina; Weber, Sabrina; Bilde, Trine; Uhl, Gabriele (2017), Data from: Male spiders reduce pre- and postmating sexual investment in response to sperm competition risk, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.4mt25

Abstract

The interplay between pre- and post-mating responses to intra-sexual competition remains enigmatic. Sperm competition models often assume a trade-off between pre- and post-mating traits that enhance mate acquisition and fertilization success, respectively. However, when males court females through food donations (i.e. nuptial gifts), pre- and post-mating responses may be aligned, as nuptial gifts have the dual function of facilitating both mate acquisition and sperm transfer. In the spider Pisaura mirabilis nuptial gifts consist of silk-wrapped prey. We tested whether males respond to a competitor by altering: 1) pre-mating investment in the gift; 2) post-mating sperm investment; and 3) whether pre- and post-mating responses are coupled and respond to competition in the same direction or not. Under competition risk males silk-wrapped their gifts for significantly shorter time and transferred less sperm to females, pointing to a reduction of both pre- and post-mating responses. Since silk is not a target of female choice, reducing gift construction may speed up mate acquisition. In accordance with models of sperm allocation, perceived high levels of competition and/or sperm priority patterns may explain the reduced patterns of sperm transfer found in our study. Overall, our findings suggest that in competitive environments pre- and post-mating traits are coupled and respond in the same direction.

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