Genital shape correlates with sperm transfer success in the praying mantis Ciulfina klassi (Insecta: Mantodea)

Gregory I. Holwell, Claire Winnick, Tom Tregenza, Marie E. Herberstein

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    46 Citations (Scopus)


    The rapid divergence of male genitalia is a widely observed evolutionary phenomenon. Although sexual selection is currently regarded as providing the most likely driving force behind genital diversification, the mechanisms responsible are still debated. Here, we investigate the relationship between male genital morphology and sperm transfer in the praying mantid Ciulfina klassi using geometric morphometrics. The shape of male genitalia in C. klassi influenced sperm transfer duration and the number and proportion of sperm transferred, suggesting that genital morphology is under sexual selection in this species. Genital size however was not correlated with any aspect of sperm transfer. Intriguingly, two of the major genital shape components correlated positively with the number of sperm transferred, but negatively with sperm transfer duration. Hence, males that most effectively transfer sperm to the female spermatheca do so in a relatively short period of time. A direct negative relationship was also found between sperm transfer duration and sperm transfer success. Overall, our study suggests that the variable genital shape of Ciulfina may have been selected for more efficient sperm transfer.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)617-625
    Number of pages9
    JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


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