Traumatic mating may offer fitness benefits for female sea slugs

August 22, 2012
The bipartite penises, which are everted as largely translucent structures at the right front of the head (h), are reciprocally inserted into the partner. While the actual penis (p) is inserted into the gonopore (located behind the right parapod), the penile stylets (s) are hypodermically inserted into the foot of the partner. Markings are only shown for the lower animal.

Female sea slugs mate more frequently than required to produce offspring, despite the highly traumatic and biologically costly nature of their copulation, as reported Aug. 22 in the open access journal PLOS ONE.

The authors of the study, led by Rolanda Lange of the University of Tuebingen in Germany, investigated the of a simultaneously hermaphroditic species of that mates via an extravagant ritual that involves a syringe-like penile appendage that stabs the partner to inject prostate fluids and sperm.

Surprisingly, the researchers found that the sea slugs mate more frequently than minimally required for offspring production and that both elevated and reduced mating rates are detrimental to female fitness, suggesting that there may be some additional, indirect benefits to this traumatic mating beyond reproduction.

Explore further: Study reveals why starling females cheat

More information: Lange R, Gerlach T, Beninde J, Werminghausen J, Reichel V, et al. (2012) Female Fitness Optimum at Intermediate Mating Rates under Traumatic Mating. PLOS ONE 7(8): e43234. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0043234

Related Stories

Study reveals why starling females cheat

June 20, 2007

While women may cheat on men for personal reasons, superb starling females appear to stray from their mates for the sake of their chicks, according to recent Cornell research published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society ...

Sex is thirst-quenching for female beetles

August 28, 2007

Female beetles mate to quench their thirst according to new research by a University of Exeter biologist. The males of some insect species, including certain types of beetles, moths and crickets, produce unusually large ejaculates, ...

Discerning males remain faithful

April 24, 2012

Discerning males remain faithful ... if you are a spider. Sex for male orb web spiders (Argiope bruennichi) is a two shot affair since the act of mating destroys their genitalia. If they survive being eaten during their first ...

Recommended for you

Orangutan females prefer dominant, cheek-padded males

September 1, 2015

Unlike most mammals, mature male orangutans exhibit different facial characteristics: some develop large "cheek pads" on their faces; other males do not. A team of researchers studied the difference in reproductive success ...

Plastic in 99 percent of seabirds by 2050

August 31, 2015

Researchers from CSIRO and Imperial College London have assessed how widespread the threat of plastic is for the world's seabirds, including albatrosses, shearwaters and penguins, and found the majority of seabird species ...

0 comments

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.