Leg impairment magnifies reproductive costs in male Mediterranean fruit flies,Ceratitis capitata

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Injuries frequently accumulate with age in nature. Despite the commonality of injury and the resulting impairment, there are limited experimental data for the effects of impairment on life history trade-offs between reproduction and survival in insects. We tested the effects of artificial injury and the resulting impairment on the reproductive costs and behavior of male medflies, Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann) (Diptera: Tephritidae). Treatment flies were impaired by amputating tarsomere segments 2–5 from the right foreleg at either eclosion or age 22 days. The effect of impairment and age on the cost of reproduction was tested by varying the timing of female availability among the treatments. Courtship behavior and copulation rates were observed hourly from age 2–5 days to determine the effects of impairment on reproductive behavior. Female access combined with the impairment reduced the life expectancy of males more than the impairment alone, whereas the health effect of amputation was influenced by age. Conversely, the risk of death due to impairment was not influenced by the males' mating status prior to amputation. The males' copulation success was reduced due to impairment, whereas courtship behavior was not affected. Impairment does not reduce the males' impulse to mate, but decreases the females' receptivity to copulation, while also increasing the cost of each successful mating. Overall, minor impairment lowers the reproductive success of males and reduces longevity.

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