Sex-dependent effects of larval food stress on adult performance under semi-natural conditions: only a matter of size?
In butterflies, male reproductive success is highly related to the quality and the size of the spermatophore transferred to the female. The spermatophore is a capsule produced by the male during copulation, which in many species contains sperm in addition to a nuptial gift, and which is digested by the female after copulation. The nuptial gift may contribute to egg production and offspring quality, and in some cases also to female body maintenance. The production of the spermatophore, however, represents a cost for the male and, in polyandrous species, ejaculates are sometimes allocated adaptively across matings. Nonetheless, although the ecological factors affecting the reproductive success of female butterflies have been the topic of numerous studies, little information exists on the factors affecting males' contribution to reproduction, and the indirect impacts on female fecundity and fitness. We used the Glanville fritillary butterfly, Melitaea cinxia (Linnaeus, 1758) (Nymphalidae), in order to assess variation in male allocation to matings. In this species, smaller males produce smaller spermatophores, but variation in spermatophore size is not correlated with female reproductive success. We show that spermatophore size increases with male age at first mating, decreases with mating frequency and adult food-deprivation, and is not influenced by developmental food-limitation. The length of copulation period does not influence the spermatophore size nor influences the polyandrous mating behavior in this species. Male contribution to his spermatophore size is clearly influenced by his condition and adult-resource at the time of mating. Despite this variation, spermatophore size does not seem to have a direct impact on female reproductive output or mating behavior.