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      Mating Behaviour and Copulatory Mechanism in the Scorpionfly Neopanorpa longiprocessa (Mecoptera: Panorpidae)

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          Sexual conflict during copulation may drive morphological and behavioral evolution in insects. Although nuptial feeding behaviour is well studied in Panorpa, whether this behaviour is universal in Panorpidae remains unknown. The scorpionfly Neopanorpa longiprocessa Hua & Chou, 1997 was investigated for its mating behaviour, functional morphology of the notal organ, and external genitalia using light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. The results show that the mating behaviour is not associated with nuptial feeding in N. longiprocessa. The morphological basis of this non-nuptial copulation is likely related to the developed notal organ of the male. The notal organ serves a function to seize wings of the female during copulation. Only males that succeed in seizing the female with the notal organ are able to establish genital contact and copulate. The male genitalia exhibit distinct species-specific modification. The epandrium (tergum IX) has evolved a pair of ventral bulbs to grasp the subgenital plate of the female. The hypandrium (sternum IX) has a pair of dorsal processes to control the abdominal end of the female. These results indicate that nuptial feeding is not a universal behaviour in Panorpidae. Presumably, these grasping apparatuses compensate the scorpionflies that fail to provide nuptial gifts, as exemplified by N. longiprocessa.

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          Sexual conflict over mating and fertilization: an overview.

          Sexual conflict is a conflict between the evolutionary interests of individuals of the two sexes. The sexes can have different trait optima but this need not imply conflict if their optima can be attained simultaneously. Conflict requires an interaction between males and females (e.g. mating or parental care), such that the optimal outcomes for each sex cannot be achieved simultaneously. It is important to distinguish between battleground models, which define the parameter space for conflict and resolution models, which seek solutions for how conflicts are resolved. Overt behavioural conflict may or may not be manifest at resolution. Following Fisherian principles, an immediate (i.e. direct) benefit to a male that has a direct cost to his female partner can have an indirect benefit to the female via her male progeny. Female resistance to mating has been claimed to represent concurrence rather than conflict, due to female benefits via sons (males with low mating advantage are screened out by resistance). However, the weight of current evidence (both theoretical and empirical) supports sexual conflict for many cases. I review (i) conflicts over mate quality, encounters between males and females of genetically diverged subpopulations, mating rate and inbreeding, (ii) the special features of postcopulatory sexual conflict and (iii) some general features of importance for conflict resolution.
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            Sexual selection and genital evolution.

            Genitalia are conspicuously variable, even in closely related taxa that are otherwise morphologically very similar. Explaining genital diversity is a longstanding problem that is attracting renewed interest from evolutionary biologists. New studies provide ever more compelling evidence that sexual selection is important in driving genital divergence. Importantly, several studies now link variation in genital morphology directly to male fertilization success, and modern comparative techniques have confirmed predicted associations between genital complexity and mating patterns across species. There is also evidence that male and female genitalia can coevolve antagonistically. Determining mechanisms of genital evolution is an important challenge if we are to resolve current debate concerning the relative significance of mate choice benefits and sexual conflict in sexual selection.
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              Sexual conflict over nuptial gifts in insects.

              Edible and seminal gifts that male arthropods transfer to their mates range from important material donations to items that provide little direct benefit. Recent reviews and research have emphasized the negative effect of gifts on female fitness, suggesting that male donations reduce the female's remating rate below her optimum or even that nuptial feeding is a net detriment to her fitness. However, comparative, experimental, and natural history evidence reveal that most edible gifts of prey or glandular products provide direct benefits to females. Gifts clearly supply nutrients when females compete for them or increase mating rates when food from other sources is limited. I point out the difficulties in determining that female remating rates are suboptimal and suggest several alternative hypotheses for the apparently low female mating rates in some gift-giving species. With regard to seminal contributions (absorbed from the ejaculate), I discuss how to separate hormonal (potentially manipulative) and material-benefit effects of male secretions on females.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                25 September 2013
                : 8
                : 9
                : e74781
                [1]State Key Laboratory of Crop Stress Biology for Arid Areas, Key Laboratory of Plant Protection Resources and Pest Management, Ministry of Education, Entomological Museum, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, Shaanxi, China
                CNRS, France
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: BZH WZ. Performed the experiments: WZ. Analyzed the data: WZ. Wrote the paper: WZ BZH.

                Copyright @ 2013

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                : 13 March 2013
                : 6 August 2013
                Page count
                Pages: 9
                This research was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant no. 31172125) and the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (MOST grant no. 2006FY120100). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
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