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McMahon, Saoirse; Matzke, Magdalena and Tuni, Cristina (2021): Food Limitation but Not Enhanced Rates of Ejaculate Production Imposes Reproductive and Survival Costs to Male Crickets. In: Cells, Vol. 10, No. 6, 1498

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Estimating costs of ejaculate production is challenging. Metabolic investment in ejaculates may come at the expense of other physiological functions and may negatively affect future reproduction and/or survival. These trade-offs are especially likely to occur under constrained resource pools (e.g., poor nutrition). Here, we investigated costs of ejaculate production via trade-offs in the field cricket Gryllus bimaculatus. We experimentally increased rates of ejaculate production, while keeping an unmanipulated group, in adult males kept at high and low feeding regimes and tested the effects of our treatments on (i) somatic maintenance (i.e., changes in male body mass), (ii) future reproduction (i.e., the likelihood of producing a spermatophore and the viability of its sperm), and (iii) lifetime survival and longevity. We predicted investment in ejaculates to impinge upon all measured responses, especially in low-fed individuals. Instead, we only found negative effects of food limitation, suggesting low or undetectable costs of spermatophore production. High mating rates may select for males to maximize their capacity of ejaculate production, making ejaculate traits less prone to trade-offs with other fitness-related life history traits. Nevertheless, males were impaired due to nutrient deficiency in producing viable ejaculates, suggesting condition-dependent costs for ejaculate production.

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