The rituals surrounding spermatophore transfer and differential treatment of spermatophores by the females in a springtail

(13.1MB, 00:02:50)
Shot Date: 2002/05/31
Shot Location: Warsaw, Poland, Europe

* species
Deuterosminthurus bicinctus (Collembola: Bourletiellidae)

Key Words
Deuterosminthurus bicinctus
sprmatophore transfer
sexual conflict

Marek W. Kozlowski and Shi Aoxiang
2005/09/21 submitted

Animalia >Arthropoda >Insecta >Collembola >Bourletiellidae >Deuterosminthurus >

Springtails never copulate when they exchange sperm: instead, males deposit spermatophores on the substratum and females actively pick them up. The film records mating rituals in a springtail Deuterosminthurus bicinctus (Sminthuridae = Bourletiellinae) where spermatophore deposition/intake is preceded by a collaborative ritual. This reminiscent of a waltz dance in the introductory phase and a cha-cha dance in the cooperative phase- in which the partners prepare for the acts of spermatophore deposition and intake respectively. The drama of the ritual concerns the uncertainty of the response of the female to a recently deposited spermatophore. In many cases, the females do not respond to male stimulation by receiving the spermatophore in a ˇČproper wayˇÉ (i.e. via the gonopore) but instead they ingest it avidly. This presentation is a selection of scenes from SVHS recordings via a dissecting microscope of springtail behaviour on the leaves of Impatiens minor. The film was digitalized with a SONY DCR 900E camcorder and edited in Macintosh iMovie.

Below is the abstract from the article containing this video:
Ritual behaviors associated with spermatophore transfer in Deuterosminthurus bicinctus (Collembola: Bourletiellidae)
Marek Wojciech Kozlowski and Shi Aoxiang
J Ethol (in press) DOI 10.1007/s10164-005-0162-6

The springtail Deuterosminthurus bicinctus, similarly to other members of Bourletiellidae, use their antennae, legs or heads to monopolize, stimulate, and direct female partners to spermatophores. The mating behavior of this species was examined by analysis of video recordings made on the leaves of its host plant. The characteristic stages of the behavioral sequence leading to sperm transfer were (1) preliminary courtship, highly variable in time and intensityˇ˝a male (rarely a female) endeavors to recruit a partner for further courtship, (2) push-and-retreat ritualˇ˝a rigid and rhythmical head-to-head dance of both partners, composed of some 180 phases and interspersed by several (3) free turns of a male and ended by (4) spermatophore deposition in front of a female, followed by stimulation of a female by a male to walk over the spermatophore, (5) spermatophore pick-up by a female with her gonopore, or alternately, (6) total spermatophore consumption by a female, as happened in 29% of the observed pairs. The mating ended always with (7) competition by both partners for the consumption of spermatophore residuals, usually won by the female. Comparison of mating elements and morphological features of partners engaged in mating sessions that ended either with spermatophore pick-up or consumption did not reveal any substantial differences. This suggests that changes in female motivation (hunger, state of impregnation) may be crucial for the male success in sperm transfer to a female. A digital video image is available at

(Data No.momo040414db01a)

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