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Joint effects of group sex-ratio and Wolbachia infection on female reproductive success in the terrestrial isopod Armadillidium vulgare

Abstract : Background: In species that reproduce with sexual reproduction, males and females often have opposite strategies to maximize their own fitness. For instance, males are typically expected to maximize their number of mating events, whereas an excessive number of mating events can be costly for females. Although the risk of sexual harassment by males and resulting costs for females are expected to increase with the proportion of males, it remains unknown whether and how parasitic distorters of a host population's sex-ratio can shape this effect on the fitness of females. Here, we addressed this question using Armadillidium vulgare and its parasite Wolbachia that alters the sex-ratio of a population. We set up Wolbachia-free and Wolbachia-infected females in experimental groups exhibiting 100, 80, 50% or 20% females for 1 year, during which we measured changes in survival, fertility and fecundity. Results: Wolbachia infection shaped the effects of both population sex-ratio and reproductive season on female fecundity. Compared to Wolbachia-free females, Wolbachia-infected females were less likely to be gravid in populations exhibiting an excess of females and did not exhibit the otherwise negative effect of seasons on this likelihood. Group sex-ratio and Wolbachia infection have independent effects on other measured traits. Male-biased populations had females both exhibiting the lowest survival rate after 6 months and producing the smallest number of offspring, independent of Wolbachia infection. Conversely, Wolbachia-infected females had the lowest likelihood of producing at least one offspring, independent of group sex-ratio. Wolbachia infection had no effect on female survival rate.
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Margot Fortin, Joël Meunier, Tiffany Laverré, Catherine Souty-Grosset, Freddie-Jeanne Richard. Joint effects of group sex-ratio and Wolbachia infection on female reproductive success in the terrestrial isopod Armadillidium vulgare. BMC Evolutionary Biology, BioMed Central, 2019, 19 (1), ⟨10.1186/s12862-019-1391-6⟩. ⟨hal-02117915⟩

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