Original Article

Flying the nest: male dispersal and multiple paternity enables extrafamilial matings for the invasive bark beetle Dendroctonus micans

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Abstract

There is an evolutionary trade-off between the resources that a species invests in dispersal versus those invested in reproduction. For many insects, reproductive success in patchily-distributed species can be improved by sibling-mating. In many cases, such strategies correspond to sexual dimorphism, with males–whose reproductive activities can take place without dispersal–investing less energy in development of dispersive resources such as large body size and wings. This dimorphism is particularly likely when males have little or no chance of mating outside their place of birth, such as when sperm competition precludes successful fertilisation in females that have already mated. The economically important bark beetle pest species Dendroctonus micans (Coleoptera: Curculionidae, Scolytinae) has been considered to be exclusively sibling-mating, with 90% of females having already mated with their brothers by emergence. The species does not, however, show strong sexual dimorphism; males closely resemble females, and have been observed flying through forests. We hypothesised that this lack of sexual dimorphism indicates that male D. micans are able to mate with unrelated females, and to sire some or all of their offspring, permitting extrafamilial reproduction. Using novel microsatellite markers, we carried out cross-breeding laboratory experiments and conducted paternity analyses of resulting offspring. Our results demonstrate that a second mating with a less-related male can indeed lead to some offspring being sired by the latecomer, but that most are sired by the first, sibling male. We discuss these findings in the context of sperm competition versus possible outbreeding depression.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS), the Fonds de la Recherche Fondamentale Collective (FRFC) and partly subsidised by funding from the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB). We thank Jean-Marc Molenberg, Lise Lambin, Laurent Grumiau, Anaï Jannin, Pierre Pélisson, Karen Ikin, Tom Tregenza and Nicolas Meurisse for advice, some samples and technical assistance. We also thank Georges Stavrakas and Jean-Claude Blot (Office National des Forêts, France) for help during field campaigns in 2003–2004.

Author information

Author notes

    • C I Fraser

    Current address: Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University, Building 141 Linnaeus Way, Canberra 0200, Australia.

Affiliations

  1. Biological Control and Spatial Ecology Laboratory, CP 160/12 Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium

    • C I Fraser
    • , O Brahy
    • , L Dohet
    • , F Mayer
    •  & J-C Grégoire
  2. Evolutionary Biology and Ecology, CP 160/12 Université Libre de Bruxelles Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium

    • P Mardulyn

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Competing interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to C I Fraser.

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Supplementary Information accompanies this paper on Heredity website (http://www.nature.com/hdy)