Sexual cannibalism by females and associated male behaviours may be driven by sexual conflict.
One such male behaviour is the eunuch phenomenon in spiders, caused by total genital emasculation, which is a seemingly maladaptive behaviour. Here, we provide the first empirical testing of an adaptive hypothesis to explain this behaviour, the remote copulation, in a highly sexually cannibalistic orb-web spider Nephilengys malabarensis.
We demonstrate that sperm transfer continues from the severed male organ into female genitals after the male has been detached from copula.
Remote copulation increases the total amount of sperm transferred, and thus probably enhances paternity. We conclude that the mechanism may have evolved in response to sexual copulation and female-controlled short copulation duration.
Sexual conflict, divergence between the copulation interests of males and females, can lead to antagonistic coevolution in which adaptations in each sex select for counter-adaptations in other [ 1 ]. Trial cannibalism by females and the associated male behaviours are examples of antagonistic coevolution driven by sexual conflict [ 1 — 5 ].
In many highly sexually cannibalistic spiders, males adopt a monogynous mating strategy, typically mating with one or two females spiders have paired genitals [ 4 ]. However, in spite of mono- or bigyny, polyandry may continue to serve interests of females [ 5 ]. To counter female polyandry, however, males trial evolved mate guarding, male sacrifice to a cannibalistic female, genital mutilation resulting in mating plugs, all dat azz 19 mechanisms that increase the quantity of sperm transferred [ 3467 ].
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