Theory predicts that when sperm compete numerically, selection will favor males who vary the number of sperm they transfer with the immediate level of sperm competition. In this study, I measured male mating investment in response to both female mating status (virgin vs. mated) and the number of foreign sperm stored by females in a previous mating in the scorpionfly Panorpa cognata. Female sperm storage was manipulated by interrupting copulations at different time points. Female mating status did not significantly influence male mating investment, but resource-limited males invested strategically in relation to the amount of sperm stored by females in a previous mating. I found continuously decreasing male investment in response to increasing amounts of competing sperm. These results demonstrate an unprecedented male ability to assess the number of sperm stored by females. As a result, males are capable of an extraordinarily fine-tuned reaction to the intensity of sperm competition.
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Vol. 61 • No. 6