Evolution of nuptial gifts and its coevolutionary dynamics with male-like persistence traits of females for multiple mating

Yoshitaka Kamimura, Kazunori Yoshizawa, Charles Lienhard, Rodrigo L. Ferreira, Jun Abe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Many male animals donate nutritive materials during courtship or mating to their female mates. Donation of large-sized gifts, though costly to prepare, can result in increased sperm transfer during mating and delayed remating of the females, resulting in higher paternity. Nuptial gifting sometimes causes severe female-female competition for obtaining gifts (i.e., sex-role reversal in mate competition) and selection on females to increase their mating rate, changing the intensity of sperm competition and the resultant paternity gains. We built a theoretical model to simulate such coevolutionary feedbacks between nuptial gift size (male trait) and propensity for multiple mating (female trait). Donation of nuptial gifts sometimes causes development of female persistence trait for gift acquisition. We also analyzed the causes and consequences of this type of traits, taking double receptacles for nutritious seminal gifts, which are known to occur in an insect group with a “female penis” (Neotrogla spp.), as an illustrative example. Results: Our individual-based simulations demonstrated that female-female competition for male-derived nutrients always occur when the environment is oligotrophic and mating costs are low for females. However, a positive correlation between donated gift size and the resultant paternity gain was a requisite for the co-occurrence of large gifts and females’ competitive multiple mating for the gifts. When gift donation satisfied female demands and thus resulted in monandry, exaggeration of nuptial gift size also occurred under the assumption that the last male monopolizes paternity. The evolution of double slots for gift acquisition and digestion (female persistence trait) always occurred when males could not satisfy the demands of females for gifts. However, through coevolutionary reduction in male gift size, fixation of this trait in a population drastically reduced the average female fitness. Conclusion: Sperm usage patterns, which have rarely been examined for animals with nuptial gifts, can be a critical factor for determining the extent of exaggeration in nuptial gifting. Sex-role reversals in mate competition, as a result of donation of nuptial gifts from males to females, can involve the evolution of male-like, persistent traits in females that reduce population productivity, as is the case with persistence traits in males.

Original languageEnglish
Article number164
JournalBMC Ecology and Evolution
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec


  • Coevolution
  • Female penis
  • Female persistence trait
  • Nuptial gift
  • Paternity determination mechanism
  • Sex role reversal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • General Environmental Science


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