Social group composition modulates the role of last male sperm precedence in post-copulatory sexual selection

Juliano Morimoto* (Corresponding Author), Grant McDonald, Stuart Wigby

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In many species, the order in which males mate with a female explains much of the variation in paternity arising from post-copulatory sexual selection. Research in Drosophila suggests that mating order may account for the majority of the variance in male reproductive success. However, the effects of mating order on paternity bias might not be static but could potentially vary with social or environmental factors. To test this idea, we used an existing dataset, collated from an experiment we previously published (Morimoto et al., PLoS One, 11, 2016, e0154468), with the addition of unpublished data from the same experiment. These previous experiments manipulated larval density in Drosophila melanogaster which generated variation in male and female body size, assembled groups of individuals of different sizes, and measured the mating success and paternity share of focal males. The data presented here provides information on each focal male's mating order and the frequency in which focal males remated with same females (‘repetitive matings’). We combined this information with our previously reported focal male reproductive success to partition variance in paternity into male mating order and repetitive matings across groups that differed in the body size composition of males and females. We found, as expected, that male mating order explained a considerable portion of the variance in male paternity. However, we also found that the impact of male mating order on male paternity was influenced by the body size composition of groups. Specifically, males that tended to mate last had a greater paternity advantage, and displayed lower variance, in groups containing a heterogenous mixture male body sizes than in groups with a single male body size. Repetitive mating only had a minor contribution to the variance in male paternity share across all experiments. Overall, our findings contribute to the growing body of research showing that post-copulatory sexual selection is subject to socio-ecological influences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1102-1115
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Issue number8
Early online date21 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Open Access via the Wiley Agreement

JM was supported by a DPhil scholarship from the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq 211668-2013-3) and a BBSRC grant (BB/V015249/1). SW was supported by by NERC (Fellowship NE/J018937/1) and BBSRC (Fellowship BB/K014544/1 and grant BB/V015249/1). GCM was supported by a National Research, Development and Innovation Office, Hungary Fellowship (FK134741). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Data Availability Statement

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