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Grand Teton National Park Report

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Male sagebrush crickets, Cyphoderris strepitans, offer an unusual nuptial food gift to females during mating: females chew on the ends of the males' fleshy hind wings and ingest hemolymph seeping from the wounds they inflict. Previous studies have shown that once a male had mated, his probability of obtaining an additional copulation is reduced relative to that of a virgin male seeking to secure his first mating, a pattern known as the virgin­male mating advantage. One hypothesis to account for the virgin-male mating advantage is that non­virgin males, having lost a substantial portion of their energy reserves at mating, may be unable to sustain the costly acoustical signaling activity required for the passive attraction of additional females. If the future mating prospects of non-virgin males are diminished because of sexual fatigue, this could stem either from the resources required to manufacture a new spermatophore or through the energy needed to replenish haemolymph lost through female wing­feeding. To distinguish between these two alternatives, we experimentally depleted virgin males of varying amounts haemolymph (0, 5 and 10 ul) in a way that mimicked hemolymph loss of non-virgin males, without the attendant costs of spermatophore production. After they had been treated, males were released in the field and recaptured over the course of the breeding season to monitor their mating success. Control males mated significantly sooner than did males depleted of 5 or 10 ul of hemolymph. We conclude, therefore, that the depletion of hemolymph that occurs through female wing feeding is sufficient by itself to diminish a non-virgin male's ability to secure another mating, acting as a brake on the operation of sexual selection in this species.