Multiple mating and sperm depletion in male Queensland fruit flies: effects on female remating behaviour

Preethi Radhakrishnan*, Diana Pérez-Staples, Christopher W. Weldon, Phillip W. Taylor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


Male insects that are unable to replenish sperm supplies between matings can suffer fitness costs either because their mates are more likely to accept subsequent suitors, or because their sperm are outnumbered when females do remate. We assessed the ability of fertile and sterile (irradiated) male Queensland fruit flies, Bactrocera tryoni ('Q-flies'), to have sperm stored by five sequential mates as well as the association between sperm depletion and female remating tendency. Sequential mates of fertile males stored similar numbers of sperm, indicating ample ability to replenish and maintain constant supplies between their once-daily mating opportunities. In contrast, sequential mates of sterile males stored progressively fewer sperm, with only trivial numbers of sperm stored by females mated by sterile males that had mated with two or more females previously. Despite the massive reduction in sperm storage by sequential mates of sterile males, fertile and sterile males were similar in their ability to induce sexual inhibition in their mates (to at least 30 days) and neither showed any decline in this ability across sequential matings. The ability of multiple-mated sterile males to induce sexual inhibition in their mates despite near or complete absence of sperm provides compelling evidence that sperm abundance plays no role in the induction of sexual inhibition in this species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)839-846
Number of pages8
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009


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