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Aspects of body size and mate choice in the simultaneously hermaphroditic pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis

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image of Animal Biology

Body size can be a good indicator of the quality of a potential mate in terms of fecundity. In many hermaphrodites, egg production is positively correlated with body size. Especially when donating sperm is costly, a preference for larger partners might be expected. Here we test this prediction for the great pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis. As expected, we find a clear effect of body size on egg production, and show that shell height can be used as a reliable predictor of body size. Additionally, behavioural observations reveal that these snails are not physically limited in mating with a much larger or smaller partner. Nonetheless, both in a choice experiment as well as in spontaneous copulations, we find no evidence of mate choice based on body size. These results contribute to a growing field of research which attempts to understand the evolution of the wide variation in the ways that hermaphroditic species respond to the size of potential mating partners.

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Ecological Science, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; 2: Institute of Ecological Science, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Max-Planck-Institut für Ornithologie, Starnberg, Germany


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