Why the best things come to those who wait

Oct 20, 2006

Pushing to the front of the queue is not the best ploy for males who want to propagate their genes according to scientists from the University of Exeter.

Dr David Hodgson and Dr David Hosken from the University of Exeter’s School of Biosciences studied female mating with multiple males, especially species who mate with more than one partner in rapid succession, and discovered why the last male in line is most likely to impregnate the female.

Many insect species but also mammals such as ground squirrels and even primates, including our close relative the chimpanzee, are ‘polyandrous’, which means that they mate with multiple partners. Previous studies have shown that the last male is most likely to be successful, and have put forward a number of theories to explain this.

This new research, published in the Journal of Theoretical Biology, shows how the last male can gain an advantage by ‘parasitising’ his mate’s previous partners’ seminal fluid. By taking advantage of the more ‘sperm friendly’ environment created by those who have gone before, he can ‘fast-track’ his sperm to the front of the race to the egg.

‘The presence of seminal fluid makes the female body a more ‘sperm-friendly’ place,’ said David Hodgson of the University of Exeter. ‘When the first male mates with the female, his sperm are released into a fairly hostile environment. But, by the time the last male mates, the presence of extra seminal fluid can assist the journey of his sperm to the egg.’

Source: University of Exeter

Explore further: Researchers discover new mechanism of DNA repair

Related Stories

3-D scans of mating fruit flies uncovers female biology

Jun 29, 2015

Following in the footsteps of Leonardo Da Vinci's 1493 anatomical sketch of a man and woman, "The Copulation," Cornell researchers used cutting-edge X-ray technology to noninvasively image fruit flies during ...

The nutrition behind good sperm

Jun 25, 2015

Males with low sperm quality probably won't get much help from dining down on fish oil supplements and a bag of carrots, recent aquatic-based research suggests.

Study takes close look at formidable camel spider jaws

Jun 22, 2015

For the first time, researchers have created a visual atlas and dictionary of terms for the many strange features on the fearsome-looking jaws of a little known group of arachnids. Called camel spiders, baardskeerders ...

Recommended for you

Researchers discover new mechanism of DNA repair

20 hours ago

The DNA molecule is chemically unstable giving rise to DNA lesions of different nature. That is why DNA damage detection, signaling and repair, collectively known as the DNA damage response, are needed.

The math of shark skin

Jul 03, 2015

"Sharks are almost perfectly evolved animals. We can learn a lot from studying them," says Emory mathematician Alessandro Veneziani.

Cuban, US scientists bond over big sharks

Jul 03, 2015

Somewhere in the North Atlantic right now, a longfin mako shark—a cousin of the storied great white—is cruising around, oblivious to the yellow satellite tag on its dorsal fin.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.