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Evolution. 2012 Jan;66(1):66-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2011.01442.x. Epub 2011 Nov 15.

Sexual selection without sexual dimorphism: Bateman gradients in a simultaneous hermaphrodite.

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Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, UMR 5175 CNRS. 1919 Route de Mende, 34293 Montpellier Cedex 5, France.


One of the most general patterns in sexual selection is stronger selection on mating activity in males than in females. This asymmetry is thought to result from the higher energetic cost of producing one female compared to one male gamete (anisogamy). However, most studies focused on gonochoric species with strong sexual dimorphism, in which males and females are necessarily under different selection regimes. The question remains whether anisogamy alone would suffice to produce such differences. In simultaneous hermaphrodites one can compare sexual selection on the male and female functions in the absence of sexual dimorphism. Here we quantify sexual selection in the hermaphroditic freshwater snail Physa acuta under laboratory conditions. We combine exhaustive behavioral records of mating activity in mating groups and molecular paternity assignment to measure the mating success and reproductive success of 120 individuals. Our results validate the prediction of stronger selection to gain mating partners in the male than in the female function. Moreover, we did not detect cross-sex effects on fitness, or correlations between male and female production of offspring over the course of our experiment. We conclude that with respect to sexual selection P. acuta is comparable to gonochorists, confirming that anisogamy is a sufficient explanation for the differences in sexual selection regimes between sexes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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