Investigating the functional morphology of genitalia during copulation in the grasshopper Melanoplus rotundipennis (Scudder, 1878) via correlative microscopy.
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We investigated probable functions of the interacting genitalic components of a male and a female of the flightless grasshopper species Melanoplus rotundipennis (Scudder, 1878) (frozen rapidly during copulation) via correlative microscopy; in this case, by synergizing micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) with digital single lens reflex camera photography with focal stacking, and scanning electron microscopy. To assign probable functions, we combined imaging results with observations of live and museum specimens, and function hypotheses from previous studies, the majority of which focused on museum specimens with few investigating hypotheses in a physical framework of copulation. For both sexes, detailed descriptions are given for each of the observed genitalic and other reproductive system components, the majority of which are involved in copulation, and we assigned probable functions to these latter components. The correlative microscopy approach is effective for examining functional morphology in grasshoppers, so we suggest its use for other animals as well, especially when investigating body regions or events that are difficult to access and understand otherwise, as shown here with genitalia and copulation. J. Morphol. 278:334-359, 2017. 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.