If you were a male field cricket, having multiple sexual partners would actually reduce your reproductive success. In a recent study from the University of Exeter, researchers found promiscuous crickets faced increased sperm competition with other males, which ultimately impacted their chances of fathering a child.
"The pattern we found suggests that males that mate more often may actually lose paternity through sperm competition," David Fisher, one of the study researchers from the Centre for Ecology and Conservation at Exeter's Penryn Campus in Cornwall, said in a news release. "It might seem more logical to think that more sexual encounters would lead to a higher number of offspring, but this isn't necessarily the case - in fact, especially strong sperm competition would mean the opposite."
Exeter researchers have been studying crickets in northern Spain and observing their sexual behaviors since 2006. In the latest study, researchers set up video cameras in the crickets' natural environment in hopes of capturing a better glimpse of the competition experienced between male field crickets (Gryllus campestris) both before and after sex.
Their recordings revealed that promiscuous males were actually more attracted to promiscuous females, which ultimately hinders the reproduction process. It follows then that those mating with multiple partners experience a reduction in paternity rates due to sperm competition, as their partners are likely to mate with many other males, too.
"We know that competition for mates has the potential to have an influence on evolution, with females preferring certain mates and dominant individuals monopolizing access to females," Fisher added in the release. "However, this research gives a new insight into understanding not only how the male-female relationships work, but also how different types of competition between males relate to each other."
For instance, they found males crickets are no better at competing with males before sex than they are after. This suggests that males are not able to win a female over by exerting their dominance.
Their study was recently published in the journal Behavioral Ecology.
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