In many insect systems, males donate nuptial gifts to insure an effective copulation or as a form of paternal investment. However, if gift magnitude is both body size-limited and positively related to fitness, then the opportunity exists for the gift to promote the evolution of large male size. In the striped ground cricket, Allonemobius socius, males transfer a body size-limited, somatic nuptial gift that is comprised primarily of hemolymph. To address the implications of this gift on male size evolution, we quantified the intensity and direction of natural (fecundity) and sexual (mating success) selection over multiple generations. We found that male size was under strong positive sexual selection throughout the breeding season. This pattern of selection was similar in successive generations spanning multiple years. Male size was also under strong natural selection, with the largest males siring the most offspring. However, multivariate selection gradients indicated that gift size, and not male size, was the best predictor of female fecundity. In other words, direct fecundity selection for larger gifts placed indirect positive selection on male body size, supporting the hypothesis that nuptial gifts can influence the evolution of male body size in this system. Although female size was also under strong selection due to a size related fecundity advantage, it did not exceed selection on male size. The implications of these results with regard to the maintenance of the female-biased size dimorphic system are discussed.
Corresponding Editor: S. Pitnick