Mating behaviour and genital morphology of Ciulfina praying mantids (Mantodea: Liturgusidae)
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 22:11 by Gregory Ian Holwell
The study of genital morphology is important to our understanding of evolutionary processes. Often the only reliable means by which to identify a species is by using male genitalic traits. Therefore the processes that lead to the diversification and elaboration of genitalia are of broad-ranging interest to evolutionary biologists. This study investigates male genital morphology in four species of praying mantid from the genus Ciulfina (Mantodea: Liturgusidae). The other major aim of this study is to document and investigate patterns of mating behaviour in Ciulfina, which differ greatly from those of other well-studied praying mantids. The topics covered are: (1) Species descriptions and geographic distributions of four praying mantids from the genus Ciulfina based on male genital morphology, and the identification of parapatric boundaries between species’ ranges. (2) The description and analysis of a unique genital polymorphism exhibited by males of three species of Ciulfina in which individuals possess genitalia that are oriented to the left (sinistral) or the right (dextral), and are shown to be mirror-images of one-another. (3) The analysis of geographic variation in male genital morphology for Ciulfina, All species were found, using elliptic Fourier analyses, to vary geographically. The patterns of variation support the sexual selection hypothesis of genital evolution. (4) Mechanisms of mate-location are described for Ciulfina biseriata and an unrelated mantid Pseudomantis albofimbriata, based on the results of choice tests and scanning electron micrography of antennal morphology. (5) Mating behaviour is described for Ciulfina, with particular attention to spermatophore feeding and variation in the duration of copulation and spermatophore attachment. Spermatophore feeding is documented for the first time in the Mantodea. (6) The relationship between genital morphology and copulation duration is explored in Ciulfina klassi. Both the shape and size of one particular genital structure, the left epiphallus was found to influence the duration of copulation for this species. The Ciulfina system is finally discussed as a potential model system for the investigation of a number of ecological and evolutionary phenomena including parapatry, genital polymorphism, chirality, spermatophore feeding, mate-searching and the effect of sexual selection on genitalia.