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Does size always matter? Mate choice and sperm allocation in Panulirus guttatus, a highly sedentary, habitat-specialist spiny lobster

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Spotted spiny lobsters, Panulirus guttatus, are small, obligate reef-dwellers that exhibit a highly sedentary lifestyle and a low tendency to aggregate with conspecifics, and that reproduce asynchronously year-round. Individual females can produce multiple clutches per year but have a short receptivity per clutch. As in most spiny lobsters, females of P. guttatus mate only once per clutch and resist further mating attempts, features that may favour development of female mate choice but limit the potential for sperm competition. We separately examined mate choice by large and small mature females through laboratory experiments that controlled for effects of male–male competition, quality of shelter, and mere social attraction. Only large females expressed preference for larger males relative to their own size, suggesting that only large females that mate with small males risk sperm limitation on fecundity success. In couples that mated, males deposited rather small, thinly spread spermatophores on the sterna of females. Spermatophore area (considered as a proxy measure of sperm content) increased with male size and showed no relationship with female size, suggesting that males of P. guttatus have a short sperm-recovery period or do not exhibit strategic sperm allocation in a non-competitive context. A comparison of average sperm allocation between P. guttatus and its sympatric species, P. argus (a much larger, highly mobile, and highly social species with more seasonal reproductive periods and a longer receptivity of females per clutch), suggests that males of P. guttatus allocate proportionally less sperm to females, on average, than males of P. argus do. According to predictions of across-species risk models, this result suggests that males of P. guttatus perceive lower average levels of sperm competition risk than males of P. argus do, implying that different Panulirus species may exhibit different mating strategies in accordance with their particular life-history and sociobiological traits.

Affiliations: 1: Unidad Académica de Sistemas Arrecifales, Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Prol. Av. Niños Héroes s/n, Domicilio Conocido, Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo 77580, Mexico; 2: Unidad Académica de Sistemas Arrecifales, Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Prol. Av. Niños Héroes s/n, Domicilio Conocido, Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo 77580, Mexico;, Email: briones@cmarl.unam.mx

10.1163/000579511X605740
/content/journals/10.1163/000579511x605740
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/content/journals/10.1163/000579511x605740
2011-11-01
2016-12-07

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