Male Crickets Risk Lives to Let Females Go First

So as the cautious man (or my mother) says, "Safety first." However, for the male cricket--as gallant as he is--he'll risk his life for a lady friend. In danger, a male cricket will wait until his female partner dives into their hiding burrow to ensure that if she's pregnant, his genes will survive.
At the entrance, it’s ladies first: the male cricket waits while his partner dives in first. It’s a delay that could cost him his life. This may all seem very chivalrous, but the male’s seemingly selfless actions also make selfish sense. He may die, but he ensures that his genes pass on to the next generation.

Male insects often stay close to female ones after they mate, and people have generally assumed that they’re standing guard. If the female mates again, the first male’s sperm will be flushed out by the second male’s contributions. If he wants to ensure that he fathers he offspring, he’d do well to keep other suitors at bay.

But Rolando Rodriguez-Munoz from the University of Exeter found that this narrative of conflict doesn’t quite work for field crickets. He set up a network of infrared cameras to study a wild population of the crickets that had all been individually marked and genetically analysed. The cameras recorded thousands of hours of video, and Rodriguez-Munoz watched them all.

The article goes on to describe the advantages both partners have when the male is accommodating to the female. Men, take notes.


-Link | Image Credit Roberto Zanon

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Hey Anise, I'll have to look into the selfish gene argument some more. I've always kind of validated behavior on whether or not it has use to the best survival of a species, and saw even the male cricket's ability to accommodate the female as a test for natural selection. It's interesting how different species develop ways of mating. Thanks for the book suggestion! Adding "The Structure of Evolutionary Theory" to my ridiculously long to-read list.
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You know, I'm always the spoilsport who points this kind of thing out, but this Richard Dawkinsesque "selfish gene" argument is not well-supported science according to, well, lots of scientists who I would rate far, far above Richard Dawkins. Most notably Stephen Jay Gould, who made some wonderful arguments against it in *The Structure of Evolutionary Theory*. Niles Eldridge too, as well as Richard Lewontin. And the cricket argument just doesn't work without the "selfish gene" theory having validity (which according to actual evidence, it really doesn't. The popular is not always the true!)
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Hm, good point! I have no idea, but perhaps investing in a female with potentially several fertilized eggs makes more sense to them than saving only one male. Or maybe they're just chivalrous after all. :)
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Hm - if male crickets can continue to inseminate females, then wouldn't it make more sense to save himself (in order to inseminate more females later on?)
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