Polyandry, multiple mating, and female fitness in a water strider Aquarius paludum

Abstract

Contrary to Bateman’s principle, polyandry appears to be a common female mating strategy. Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain the evolution of polyandry. It is assumed that females gain either material or genetic benefits from multiple matings, or that they are coerced into mating by males. In water striders, mating is generally assumed to be costly to females, and they are thought to mate for reasons of convenience, adjusting their resistance to mating according to male harassment. Here, we tested the effect of number of matings (with the same male) and number of partners on female fitness in a water strider Aquarius paludum. In the first experiment, we regulated the time females spent with a male and found that females’ egg production increased with multiple matings up to a point. The result supports the existence of an optimal female mating frequency. In the second experiment, we tested how polyandry affects the number of eggs laid and egg hatching success. We conducted three different trials: females mated four times with either a single male, two different males, or with four different males. Females that mated with four different males laid the lowest number of eggs and had the lowest egg hatching success, suggesting that polyandry reduces females’ egg production and egg hatching success in A. paludum. We conclude that A. paludum females probably gain material benefits from mating but no genetic benefits were found in this study.

DOI: 10.1007/s00265-009-0883-6

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Cite this paper

@article{Ronkainen2009PolyandryMM, title={Polyandry, multiple mating, and female fitness in a water strider Aquarius paludum}, author={Katri Ronkainen and Arja Kaitala and Sami M Kivel{\"a}}, journal={Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology}, year={2009}, volume={64}, pages={657-664} }