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Tuni, Cristina; Han, Chang S. and Dingemanse, Niels J. (2018): Multiple biological mechanisms result in correlations between pre- and post-mating traits that differ among versus within individuals and genotypes. In: Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, Vol. 285, No. 1885, 20180951

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Reproductive traits involved in mate acquisition (pre-mating traits) are predicted to covary with those involved in fertilization success (post-mating traits). Variation in male quality may give rise to positive, and resource allocation trade-offs to negative, covariances between pre- and post-mating traits. Empirical studies have yielded mixed results. Progress is hampered as researchers often fail to appreciate that mentioned biological mechanisms can act simultaneously but at different hierarchical levels of biological variation: genetic correlations may, for example, be negative due to genetic trade-offs but environmental correlations may instead be positive due to individual variation in resource acquisition. We measured pre- mating (aggression, body weight) and post-mating (ejaculate size) reproductive traits in a pedigreed population of southern field crickets (Gryllus bimaculatus). To create environmental variation, crickets were raised on either a low or a high nymphal density treatment. We estimated genetic and environmental sources of correlations between pre- and post-mating traits. We found positive genetic correlations between pre- and post-mating traits, implying the existence of genetic variation in male quality. Over repeated trials of the same individual (testing order), positive changes in one trait were matched with negative changes in other traits, suggesting energy allocating trade-offs within individuals among days. These findings demonstrate the need for research on pre- and post-mating traits to consider the hierarchical structure of trait correlations. Only by doing so was our study able to conclude that multiple mechanisms jointly shape phenotypic associations between pre- and post-mating traits in crickets.

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