Female mate choice predicts paternity success in the absence of additive genetic variance for other female paternity bias mechanisms in Drosophila serrata

J Evol Biol. 2014 Nov;27(11):2568-72. doi: 10.1111/jeb.12511. Epub 2014 Oct 7.


After choosing a first mate, polyandrous females have access to a range of opportunities to bias paternity, such as repeating matings with the preferred male, facilitating fertilization from the best sperm or differentially investing in offspring according to their sire. Female ability to bias paternity after a first mating has been demonstrated in a few species, but unambiguous evidence remains limited by the access to complex behaviours, sperm storage organs and fertilization processes within females. Even when found at the phenotypic level, the potential evolution of any mechanism allowing females to bias paternity other than mate choice remains little explored. Using a large population of pedigreed females, we developed a simple test to determine whether there is additive genetic variation in female ability to bias paternity after a first, chosen, mating. We applied this method in the highly polyandrous Drosophila serrata, giving females the opportunity to successively mate with two males ad libitum. We found that despite high levels of polyandry (females mated more than once per day), the first mate choice was a significant predictor of male total reproductive success. Importantly, there was no detectable genetic variance in female ability to bias paternity beyond mate choice. Therefore, whether or not females can bias paternity before or after copulation, their role on the evolution of sexual male traits is likely to be limited to their first mate choice in D. serrata.

Keywords: Drosophila serrata; additive genetic variance; female paternity bias; pre- and post-copulatory female mate choice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Copulation
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Female
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Male
  • Mating Preference, Animal / physiology*
  • Sex Characteristics