Mating has been found to be costly for females of some species because of toxic products that males transfer to females in their seminal fluid. Such mating costs seem paradoxical, particularly for species in which females mate more frequently than is necessary to fertilize their eggs. Indeed, some studies suggest that females may benefit from mating more frequently. The effect of male ejaculates on female life span and lifetime fecundity was experimentally tested in the variable field cricket, Gryllus lineaticeps. In field crickets, females will mate repeatedly with a given male and mate with multiple males. Females that were experimentally mated either repeatedly or multiply lived more than 32% longer than singly mated females. In addition, multiply mated females produced 98% more eggs than singly mated females. Because females received only sperm and seminal fluid from males in the experimental matings, these life-span and fecundity benefits may result from beneficial seminal fluid products that males transfer to females during mating. Mating benefits rather than mating costs may be common in many animals, particularly in species where female mate choice has a larger effect on male reproductive success than does the outcome of sperm competition.
Corresponding Editor: C. Boggs