Article thumbnail

Female Genitalia Concealment Promotes Intimate Male Courtship in a Water Strider

By Chang S. Han and Piotr G. Jablonski


Violent coercive mating initiation is typical for animals with sexual conflict over mating. In these species, the coevolutionary arms-race between female defenses against coercive mating and male counter-adaptations for increased mating success leads to coevolutionary chases of male and female traits that influence the mating. It has been controversial whether one of the sexes can evolve traits that allow them to “win” this arms race. Here, we use morphological analysis (traditional and scanning electron micrographs), laboratory experiments and comparative methods to show how females of a species characterized by typical coercive mating initiation appear to “win” a particular stage of the sexual conflict by evolving morphology to hide their genitalia from direct, forceful access by males. In an apparent response to the female morphological adaptation, males of this species added to their typically violent coercive mounting of the female new post-mounting, pre-copulatory courtship signals produced by tapping the water's surface with the mid-legs. These courtship signals are intimate in the sense that they are aimed at the female, on whom the male is already mounted. Females respond to the signals by exposing their hidden genitalia for copulatory intromission. Our results indicate that the apparent victory of coevolutionary arms race by one sex in terms of morphology may trigger evolution of a behavioral phenotype in the opposite sex

Topics: Research Article
Publisher: Public Library of Science
OAI identifier:
Provided by: PubMed Central

Suggested articles


  1. (1980). A computerized method of analyzing and playing back vibratory animal signals.
  2. (1985). Alternative mating strategies in the water strider Gerris elongatus
  3. (2002). Antagonistic coevolution between the sexes in a group of insects.
  4. (1956). Beobachtungen zur fortpflanzung von Gerris najasDE Geer (Heteroptera).
  5. (1994). Biology of water striders: Interactions between systematics and ecology.
  6. (1999). Biostatistical analysis: Prentice Hall Upper Saddle River,
  7. (1996). Body size and fecundity in the waterstrider Aquarius remigis: a test of Darwin’s fecundity advantage hypothesis.
  8. (1992). Classification and phylogeny of the Holarctic water strider genus Limnoporus Stal (Hemiptera,
  9. (1993). Classification, phylogeny, and zoogeography of the pond skater genus Gerris Fabricius (Hemiptera: Gerridae).
  10. (2007). Coevolution between harmful male genitalia and female resistance in seed beetles.
  11. (2001). Comparative methods for the analysis of continuous variables: Geometric interpretations.
  12. (2004). COMPARE, Version 4.6 b. Computer Programs for the Statistical Analysis of Comparative Data.Distributed by the author at http:// of Biology,
  13. (1995). Conflict between sexes in the water strider, Gerris lacustris: a test of two hypotheses for male guarding behavior.
  14. (1999). Copulatory behavior, genital morphology, and male fertilization success in water striders.
  15. (2002). Correlated evolution of male and female morphologies in water striders.
  16. (1993). Costs of loading associated with mate-carrying in the waterstrider, Aquarius remigis.
  17. (1999). Estimation of Ancestral States of Continuous Characters:
  18. (1994). Evidence for widespread courtship during copulation in 131 species of insects and spiders, and implications for cryptic female choice.
  19. (1996). Female Control: Sexual Selection by Cryptic Female Choice:
  20. (1996). Female Control: Sexual Selection by Cryptic Female Choice. PrincetonNJ:
  21. (2003). Functional morphology of sexually selected gentalia in the water strider Aquarius remigis.
  22. (1960). Keys to Subfamilies, Tribes, Genera and Subgenera of the Gerridae of the World:
  23. (2008). Male mating strategies through manipulation of female-perceived predation risk: a minireview and a hypothesis.
  24. (1985). Male territoriality in the waterstrider Limnoporus rufoscutellatus.
  25. (2008). MESQUITE: a modular system for evolutionary analysis Version 2.5
  26. (1989). Multiple mating in a water strider: Mutual benefits or intersexual conflict?
  27. (2005). One tool, many uses: precopulatory sexual selection on genital morphology in Aquarius remigis.
  28. (1997). Phylogenies and the Comparative Method: A General Approach to Incorporating Phylogenetic Information into the Analysis of Interspecific Data.
  29. (2006). Phylogeny and reclassification of species groups
  30. (2001). Phylogeny of the water strider genus Gerris Fabricius (Heteroptera: Gerridae) based on COI mtDNA, EF-1a nuclear DNA and morphology.
  31. (2004). Rapid divergent evolution of sexual morphology: Comparative tests of antagonistic coevolution and traditional female choice.
  32. (1987). Ripple signals of the waterstrider Limnoporus rufoscutellatus
  33. (1979). Sex Discrimination in Gerris remigis: Role of a Surface Wave Signal.
  34. (1995). Sexual conflict and arms races between the Sexes: a morphological adaptation for control of mating in a female insect.
  35. (1998). Sexual conflict and the energetic costs of mating and mate choice in water striders.
  36. (1994). Sexual conflict and the evolutionary ecology of mating patterns: water striders as a model system.
  37. (2005). Sexual Conflict:
  38. (1979). Sexual selection and sexual conflict. In: Blum MS, Blum NB, eds
  39. (2006). Sexually antagonistic coevolution in insects is associated with only limited morphological diversity.
  40. (1996). Signalling asymmetry in the communication of the water strider Aquarius remigis.
  41. (1999). Size-assortative mating, male choice and female choice in the curculionid beetle Diaprepes abbreviatus.
  42. (1986). Structure, function and evolution of the reproductive system in females of Hebrus pusillus and H.
  43. (1960). Studies on the functional morphology of Gerris najas Degeer (Hem.
  44. (1994). The costs of mating and mate choice in water striders.
  45. (2005). The effect of abdominal spines on female mating frequency and fecundity in a water strider.
  46. (1997). The evolution of water strider mating systems: causes and consequences of sexual conflicts. In: Choe JC,
  47. (2002). The function of female resistance behavior: Intromission by male coercion vs. female cooperation in sepsid flies (Diptera: Sepsidae).
  48. (1986). The mating system of two hybridizing species of water striders (Gerridae).
  49. (1982). The Semiaquatic Bugs (Hemiptera, Gerromorpha): Phylogeny, Adaptations, Biogeography and Classification. Entomonograph 3:
  50. (1988). The territorial behaviour of four Ugandan waterstrider species (Heteroptera, Gerridae): A comparative study.
  51. (2006). Trauma, disease and collateral damage: conflict in cimicids.
  52. (1991). Vibratory signals enhance mate-guarding in a water strider (Hemiptera: Gerridae).

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.