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Size-dependent sex allocation and sexual selection in Aplysia kurodai, a hermaphrodite with nonreciprocal mating

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For simultaneous hermaphrodites, a male-to-female shift in sex allocation with growth, and weak sexual selection on the male function, is predicted by many theories, although empirical data for both predictions are insufficient for internally fertilizing hermaphrodites with nonreciprocal mating. To address these issues, I studied mating and egg-laying behavior of the sea hare, Aplysia kurodai (Gastropoda: Opisthobranchia) in the laboratory. Both frequency and duration of egg laying increased with body weight, indicating that fecundity increased with weight. On the other hand, frequency and duration of mating as males did not increase with body weight, suggesting that sperm usage was independent of weight. Therefore, sex allocation shifted from male to female functions with growth. The lack of a relationship between body weight and mating activities as males also suggests that there was no “female” choice for large partners. However, the frequency of mating as females increased with body weight, suggesting “male” choice for large partners. This “male” choice is further supported by the presence of size-assortative mating and a longer duration of mating when the female partner was large. In addition, the variance in mating frequency as females was larger than that as males. As a whole, the mating behavior in A. kurodai can be summarized as choosy as males and unchoosy as females, the opposite of the patterns known in most gonochoric and hermaphroditic animals.

Keywords: Gastropoda; mate choice; simultaneous; unilateral mating

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Faculty of Science, Nara Women's University, Kitauoya-nishi, Nara 630-8506, Japan

Publication date: 2008-06-01

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