Polyandrous females found fitter populations

Polyandrous females found fitter populations

Abstract

Multiple mating by females (polyandry) requires an evolutionary explanation, because it carries fitness costs in many species. When mated females disperse alone to a new habitat, their offspring may have no option but to mate with their siblings and incur inbreeding depression. However, some of the offspring of polyandrous females may only be half siblings, reducing inbreeding depression when isolated groups of siblings only have each other as mates. We investigated this putative benefit of polyandry over monandry by initiating multiple genetically isolated populations of Callosobruchus maculatus beetles, each founded by a single female, who received a complete ejaculate from either one or two males. The early generations had comparable fitness, but the F4 and F5 descendants of doubly inseminated females were more numerous and had higher egg‐to‐adult survival than the descendants of singly inseminated females. This fitness benefit was of similar magnitude whether beetles were reared on their standard food plant, or on a less favourable food source. Our results suggest that polyandrous females produce fitter descendants in inbred founder populations and therefore that polyandry may affect movement ecology and invasion biology.

Publication
Journal of Evolutionary Biology