Male inbreeding status affects female fitness in a seed-feeding beetle

C. W. Fox, J. Xu, W. G. Wallin, C. L. Curtis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Inbreeding generally reduces male mating activity such that inbred males are less successful in male-male competition. Inbred males can also have smaller accessory glands, transfer less sperm and produce sperm that are less motile, less viable or have a greater frequency of abnormalities, all of which can reduce the fertilization success and fitness of inbred males relative to outbred males. However, few studies have examined how male inbreeding status affects the fitness of females with whom they mate. In this study, we examine the effect of male inbreeding status (inbreeding coefficient f=0.25 vs. f=0) on the fecundity, adult longevity and the fate of eggs produced by outbred females in the seed-feeding beetle, Callosobruchus maculatus. Females mated to inbred males were less likely to lay eggs. Of those that laid eggs, females mated to inbred males laid 6-12% fewer eggs. Females mated to inbred males lived on average 5.4% longer than did females mated to outbred males, but this effect disappeared when lifetime fecundity was used as a covariate in the analysis. There was no effect of male inbreeding status on the proportion of a female's eggs that developed or hatched, and no evidence that inbred males produced smaller nuptial gifts. However, ejaculates of inbred males contained 17-33% fewer sperm, on average, than did ejaculates of outbred males. Our study demonstrates that mating with inbred males has significant direct consequences for the fitness of female C. maculatus, likely mediated by effects of inbreeding status on the number of sperm in male ejaculates. Direct effects of male inbreeding status on female fitness should be more widely considered in theoretical models and empirical studies of mate choice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-37
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • Callosobruchus maculatus
  • Ejaculate size
  • Inbreeding depression
  • Nuptial gifts
  • Sexual selection
  • Sperm production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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