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Developmental diet irreversibly shapes male post‐copulatory traits in the neriid fly Telostylinus angusticollis

Macartney, Erin L., Nicovich, Philip R., Bonduriansky, Russell, Crean, Angela J.
Journal of evolutionary biology 2018 v.31 no.12 pp. 1894-1902
Diptera, adults, body size, diet, female reproductive system, males, nutrient availability, nutrients, reproductive success, spermatozoa, testes
Nutrient availability has been shown to influence investment in many fitness‐related traits, including male reproductive success. Many studies have demonstrated that a reduction in nutrient availability alters male post‐copulatory trait expression, with some studies demonstrating an effect of developmental nutrients and others, an effect of adult nutrients. However, few studies have manipulated both developmental and adult nutrients in the same experiment. Therefore, it is not clear what life‐stage has the greatest effect on post‐copulatory trait expression, and if the effects of developmental and adult nutrients can interact. Here, we investigate effects of developmental and adult nutrition on male testes and accessory gland size, sperm movement within the female reproductive tract and sperm length in the neriid fly, Telostylinus angusticollis. We found that males fed a nutrient‐poor developmental diet produced sperm with a reduced tail beat frequency and had smaller testes and accessory glands compared to males fed a nutrient‐rich developmental diet. In contrast, we found no effects of adult nutrition on any traits measured, although sperm length was correlated with body size and male age but unaffected by nutrition at any stage. Therefore, investment in adult post‐copulatory traits is determined early on by developmental nutrients in male neriid flies, and this effect is not altered by adult nutrient availability.