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PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e37074. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0037074. Epub 2012 May 16.

Multiple fitness benefits of polyandry in a cephalopod.

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Zoology Department, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.



Sex differences in reproductive investment play a crucial role in sexual conflict. One intriguing aspect of sexual conflict is the evolution of female multiple mating (polyandry), particularly in systems where females receive no obvious direct benefits from males, and where mating is highly costly. Here, theory predicts that polyandrous females can increase their reproductive success by taking advantage of the genetic benefits of mating with multiple males. Cephalopods provide a model system for addressing this question, as all species mate multiply. Here we examine differences in reproductive success between monandrous, multiply mated (to the same male) and polyandrous female dumpling squid (Euprymna tasmanica).


We mated females in the laboratory with two different males (polyandrous; controlling for mating order), or with a single male (monandrous). To control for mating frequency, we mated monandrous females either once (monandrous 1), or with the same male twice (monandrous 2), and measured reproductive success for each of the three treatments (polyandrous, monandrous 1, monandrous 2). Females mated to two different males produced eggs faster and had larger hatchlings relative to egg mass than females mated once with a single male.


The benefits of polyandry demonstrated here are the first, to our knowledge, in any cephalopod. These benefits may outweigh the significant costs associated with mating and help to explain how multiple mating has evolved (or is maintained) in this group.

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