Size-dependent investment in tusk length, testis size and sperm length in a biparental geotrupid beetle

M. E. Rosa, J. Kiss, Z. Barta, A. Kosztolányi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


Males of extreme small or large sizes often experience different levels of pre- and postcopulatory sexual selection that result in alternative ways to gain fertilization success. Here, we investigated such alternative mating tactics in Lethrus apterus, a biparental geotrupid beetle species with noticeable intermale size variation by comparing tusk (mandibular process) length, testis size and sperm length between large and small males. Firstly, we demonstrated evidence for male polymorphism as extremely large males had longer tusks relative to their body size than extremely small individuals. Secondly, large males had bigger testes than small males throughout the breeding season, however, a significant decrease was observed over time in large but not in small individuals. Thirdly, sperm length did not differ between the two size categories. Although these results do not explain how the observed large body size variation can be maintained in L. apterus, the non allometric relationship found between tusk length and body size and the lower decrease in testis size over the breeding season in case of small individuals might refer to the presence of alternative mating tactics in this species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-113
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Zoology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2019



  • Geotrupidae
  • Lethrus apterus
  • body size
  • insects
  • polymorphism
  • reproductive strategies
  • sperm competition
  • testis size

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

Cite this