Nav: Home

It takes 2 to tango: Beetles are equal partners in mating behavior

February 21, 2017

Beetles that copulate with the same mate as opposed to different partners will repeat the same behaviour, debunking previous suggestions that one sex exerts control over the other in copulation, new research has found.

Entomologists from the University of Lincoln, UK, examined the mating behaviour of Callosobruchus maculatus beetles - more commonly known as seed beetles - to determine if either sex controlled the duration of copulation.

During mating, kicking by the female is the only it can force the male to disengage its spiny genitalia which punctures the female's reproductive tract. The study found that when beetles repeatedly mated with the same partner, the amount of time it took for the female to begin kicking the male, and how long she spent kicking, was virtually the same.

However, when mated to different partners, the duration of both the time it took to begin kicking and how long the female kicked for varied considerably.

Dr Paul Eady from the University of Lincoln's School of Life Sciences led the study. He said: "Across the animal kingdom the duration of copulation varies enormously from a few seconds to several days, and it has traditionally been seen as a cooperative venture between males and females to facilitate the transfer of sperm.

"However, recent studies indicate that copulation might actually represent an uneasy alliance in which male and female interests are in conflict, which has led to a number of researchers examining which sex controls copulatory behaviour.

"Teasing apart male and female influences over the duration of mating is difficult because although males may have more to gain, females are often in a position to exert more control.

"We used a very simple experimental protocol that examined the repeatability of male and female copulatory behaviour in the beetle, Callosobruchus maculatus. When males mated to several females and when females mated to several males, the copulatory behaviour of individuals was inconsistent. This suggests both males and females have a degree of control over the duration of copulation.

"This was confirmed when male-female pairs were permitted to copulate several times in succession, and the behaviour was highly repeatable. This tells us that copulatory behaviour is a product of male-female interactions, rather than one sex exerting control over the other."

The findings have been published in the Royal Society Open Science today (Wednesday 22nd February).
-end-


University of Lincoln

Related Beetles Articles:

Evolution experiment: Specific immune response of beetles adapts to bacteria
The memory of the immune system is able to distinguish a foreign protein with which the organism has already come into contact from another and to react with a corresponding antibody.
Sexual competition helps horned beetles survive deforestation
A study of how dung beetles survive deforestation in Borneo suggests that species with more competition among males for matings are less likely to go extinct, according to research led by scientists from Queen Mary University of London and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Dung beetles get wind
Researchers have shown for the first time that these insects use different directional sensors to achieve the highest possible navigational precision in different conditions.
Dung beetles use wind compass when the sun is high
Researchers have shown for the first time that an animal uses different directional sensors to achieve the highest possible navigational precision in different conditions.
Threatened beetles benefit from forest thinning
Wood-living beetles that use oak trees are a species-rich and threatened animal group in modern forestry and agriculture in southern Sweden.
More Beetles News and Beetles Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...