Benefit of polyandry in a monandrous species when females mate with already mated males
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Female mating frequency varies among animal taxa. A benefit to females of remating has usually been found, but almost all tests have been with polyandrous species. A species being monandrous does not guarantee that mating only once benefits the female, instead the monandry may result from sexual conflict, where her failure to remate benefits her mate, but not her. The parasitoid wasp Spalangia endius (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae) is highly monandrous. Females do not benefit from either immediate or delayed remating when their first mate is virgin. However, some females are likely to mate with already mated males because sex ratios are female-biased. Here the effect of experimentally-induced polyandry on female fitness was examined for females whose first mate had already mated four times, i.e., for fifth females. Fifth female S. endius produce significantly fewer daughters than first females. Production of daughters, but not sons, requires sperm in hymenopterans. Fifth females were experimentally induced to mate with a second male, by preventing such females’ first mate from providing postcopulatory courtship. The proportion of female offspring produced by these polyandrous fifth females was greater than by monandrous fifth females and not significantly different than by monandrous first females. Total number of offspring did not differ among the three treatments. These results show that there are conditions under which females benefit from polyandry in this highly monandrous species and that the benefit is through effects on offspring sex ratio, not fecundity.