Polyandry and female control: the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum as a case study

J Exp Zool B Mol Dev Evol. 2008 Mar 15;310(2):148-59. doi: 10.1002/jez.b.21164.


Females of many animal species are polyandrous, and there is evidence that they can control pre- and post-mating events. There has been a growing interest in consequences of polyandry for male and female reproductive success and offspring fitness, and its evolutionary significance. In several taxa, females exhibit mate choice both before and after mating and can influence the paternity of their offspring, enhancing offspring number and quality, but potentially countering male interests. Studying female mating biology and in particular post-copulatory female control mechanisms thus promises to yield insights into sexual selection and the potential of male-female coevolution. Here, we highlight the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum (Herbst), a storage pest, as a model system to study polyandry, and review studies addressing the effects of polyandry on male sperm competitive ability and female control of post-mating events. These studies show that the outcome of sperm competition in the red flour beetle is influenced by both male and female traits. Furthermore, recent advances suggest that sexual conflict may have shaped reproductive traits in this species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Male
  • Sex Determination Processes
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Tribolium / physiology*