Parasites may exert negative effects on host survivorship and reproductive success. The effects of parasites on female host fitness have been well documented; however, the effects of parasites on the reproductive success of male hosts and particularly the underlying mechanisms that alter male fitness are not well understood. Previous studies demonstrated that infection by rat tapeworm (Hymenolepis diminuta) reduced the fitness of male red flour beetles (Tribolium castaneum) in an environment of female mate choice and strong male–male competition. The present study determined the role of female mate choice and male insemination capacity on observed fitness reduction of male beetles by the tapeworm parasites. We found that infected males showed reduced mating vigor and consequently inseminated fewer females than did uninfected males. Specifically, tapeworm infection reduced the number of offspring sired by a male by 14–22% even when male–male competition and female mate choice were absent. Further, the insemination capacity of males diminished by 30% because of infection. Female beetles did not discriminate against infected males in precopulatory mate choice experiments. Copulatory courtship, a determinant of postcopulatory female choice, was not significantly different between infected and uninfected males. Hence, we concluded that female beetles did not show either pre- or postcopulatory choice against tapeworm-infected males. Therefore, tapeworm-induced reduction in the reproductive success of male beetles possibly results from altered reproductive biology, such as lower mating vigor and decreased sperm quantity or quality.
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