Male nutrient provisioning is widespread in insects. Females of some species use male-derived nutrients for increased longevity and reproductive output. Despite much research into the consequences of paternal nutrient investment for male and female fitness, the heritability, and therefore the potential of this trait to respond to selection, has rarely been examined. Males of several butterfly species provide the female with nutrients in the spermatophore at mating. Females of the green-veined white butterfly Pieris napi (Lepidoptera: Pieridae) use male donations both for developing eggs (resulting in higher lifetime fecundity of multiply mated females), but also for their somatic maintenance (increasing longevity). Using half-sib, father-son regression and full-sib analyses, I showed that paternal nutrient investment is heritable, both in terms of the absolute but also the relative size of the spermatophore (controlling for body size). Male size and spermatophore size were also genetically correlated. Furthermore, a separate study showed male genotype had a significant effect on female longevity and lifetime fecundity. In contrast, male genotype had no influence on the immediate egg-laying rate of females following mating, suggesting limited scope for male manipulation of immediate female oviposition. These results indicate that females may derive both direct (increased lifetime fecundity and longevity) and indirect (sons with greater reproductive success) fitness benefits from paternal nutrient donations in this species.
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Vol. 60 • No. 8