Determinants of mating and sperm-transfer success in a simultaneous hermaphrodite

Janicke, T. and Schärer, L.. (2009) Determinants of mating and sperm-transfer success in a simultaneous hermaphrodite. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 22 (2). pp. 405-415.

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The number of mating partners an individual has within a population is a crucial parameter in sex allocation theory for simultaneous hermaphrodites because it is predicted to be one of the main parameters influencing sex allocation. However, little is known about the factors that determine the number of mates in simultaneous hermaphrodites. Furthermore, in order to understand the benefits obtained by resource allocation into the male function it is important to identify the factors that predict sperm-transfer success, i.e. the number of sperm a donor manages to store in a mate. In this study we experimentally tested how social group size (i.e. the number of all potential mates within a population) and density affect the number of mates and sperm transfer success in the outcrossing hermaphroditic flatworm Macrostomum lignano. In addition, we assessed whether these parameters covary with morphological traits, such as body size, testis size and genital morphology. For this we used a method, which allows tracking sperm of a labelled donor in an unlabelled mate. We found considerable variation in the number of mates and sperm-transfer success between individuals. The number of mates increased with social group size, and was higher in worms with larger testes, but there was no effect of density. Similarly, sperm-transfer success was affected by social group size and testis size, but in addition this parameter was influenced by genital morphology. Our study demonstrates for the first time that the social context and the morphology of sperm donors are important predictors of the number of mates and sperm-transfer success in a simultaneous hermaphrodite. Based on these findings, we hypothesize that sex allocation influences the mating behaviour and outcome of sperm competition.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Integrative Biologie > Evolutionary Biology (Schärer)
UniBasel Contributors:Schärer, Lukas and Janicke, Tim
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:05 Oct 2017 06:03
Deposited On:22 Mar 2012 14:04

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