Surviving in sympatry

paragenital divergence and sexual mimicry between a pair of traumatically inseminating plant bugs

Nikolai J. Tatarnic, Gerasimos Cassis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)


Reproductive interactions between species can carry significant costs (e.g., wasted time, energy, and gametes). In traumatically inseminating insects, heterospecific mating costs may be intensified, with indiscriminate mating and damaging genitalia leading to damage or death. When closely related traumatically inseminating species are sympatric, we predict selection should favor the rapid evolution of reproductive isolation. Here we report on a cryptic species of traumatically inseminating plant bug, Coridromius taravao, living sympatrically with its sister species, Coridromius tahitiensis, in French Polynesia. Despite their sister-species relationship, they exhibit striking differences in reproductive morphology, with females of each species stabbed and inseminated through different parts of their abdomens. Furthermore, C. tahitiensis is sexually dimorphic in coloration and vestiture, while both sexes of C. taravao share the C. tahitiensis male expression of these traits. These findings support a role for (1) reproductive character divergence and (2) interspecies sexual mimicry in limiting interspecific mating brought about by indiscriminate male mating behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)542-551
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Coridromius
  • Reproductive character displacement
  • Reproductive interference
  • Sexual mimicry
  • Traumatic insemination

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