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The mating strategy of Alytes muletensis: Some males are less ready to mate than females

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A laboratory experiment was set up to examine mating success in male Mallorcan midwife toads, Alytes muletensis. Mating appeared to be unrelated to male size, condition or asymmetry. This was despite potential benefits to females of mating with males of a large size (and avoiding small males), good condition or high symmetry, and/or despite advantages that these males hypothetically have in maintaining courtship or amplexus. There was a skew in male mating success but there was no clear evidence to suggest that this was a result of direct male-male competition or overt or cryptic female choice. Instead, males appeared to become receptive at different times over an extended breeding season and we suggest that, generally, male inclination to mate was low. This is evidenced by the fact that only one quarter of the males mated and, despite a sex ratio of five males to one female, females still dropped (oviposited) one third of their egg clutches without mating. Male inclination to mate may vary across time in this species because of the heavy burden of brooding the eggs, or some artefact of the captive environment may have affected it.


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