The role of body size in early mating behavior in a simultaneous hermaphrodite, Chelidonura sandrana
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- Sprenger, D., Lange, R., Michiels, N.K. et al. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (2009) 63: 953. doi:10.1007/s00265-009-0738-1
Intraspecific variation in mating behavior is widespread among simultaneous hermaphrodites but its underlying sources remain largely unexplored. In the sea slug Chelidonura sandrana, most matings are reciprocal. However, despite non-conditional sperm exchange and potential polygamy-mediated benefits, 30% of matings end after unilateral insemination. To resolve this apparent inconsistency, we here investigated the effect of body size on the frequency of reciprocal matings by testing the following two hypotheses. First, sex-allocation theory predicts that the likelihood of reciprocity depends on the size difference between mating partners. Second, if both sex functions temporally differ in reaching maturity, reciprocal matings should be more frequent with increasing absolute body size of the smaller partner. The likelihood of reciprocity increased with body size of the smaller partner. Moreover, smaller individuals acted more often as males among unilateral matings. These findings suggest that the ability to donate sperm develops prior to female functionality in C. sandrana.