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Published June 11, 2024 | Version v1
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Sexually antagonistic coevolution of the male nuptial gift and female feeding behaviour in decorated crickets

  • 1. Western Sydney University
  • 2. University of Exeter
  • 3. United States Department of Agriculture
  • 4. Illinois State University


The evolution of nuptial gifts has traditionally been considered a harmonious affair, providing benefits to both mating partners. There is growing evidence, however, that receiving a nuptial gift can be actively detrimental to the female. In decorated crickets (Gryllodes sigillatus), males produce a gelatinous spermatophylax that enhances sperm transfer but provides little nutritional benefit and hinders female post-copulatory mate choice. Here, we examine the sexually antagonistic coevolution of the spermatophylax and the female feeding response to this gift in G. sigillatus maintained in experimental populations with either a male-biased or female-biased adult sex ratio. After 25 generations, males evolving in male-biased populations produced heavier spermatophylaxes with a more manipulative combination of free amino acids than those evolving in female-biased populations. Moreover, when the spermatophylax originated from the same selection regime, females evolving in male-biased populations always had shorter feeding durations than those evolving in female-biased populations indicating the evolution of greater resistance. Across populations, female feeding duration increased with the mass and manipulative combination of free amino acids in the spermatophylax suggesting sexually antagonistic coevolution. Collectively, our work demonstrates a key role for interlocus sexual conflict and sexually antagonistic coevolution in the mating system of G. sigillatus.


Data is presented in Microsoft Excel.

Funding provided by: Australian Research Council
Crossref Funder Registry ID:
Award Number: DP180101708

Funding provided by: National Science Foundation
Crossref Funder Registry ID:
Award Number: IOS 16-54028


We manipulated the intensity of interlocus sexual conflict in replicate experimental population by manipulating the adult sex ratio to be either male -biased (increased conflict) or female-biased (reduced conflict). This was done for 25 generations of evolution. We then measured the manipulative properties of the male nuptial gift (the spermatophylax) in these populations (spermatophylax dry mass and amino acid composition), as well as female feeding duration on these gifts (as a measure of resistance to manipulation). We present the raw data and population mean data for these traits. Spermatophylax dry mass was measured using an electronic balance. Spermatophylax amino acid composition was measured using GC-MS. Female feeding behaviour was measured in behavioural assays.


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