Variation in size at sex-change among natural populations of the protandrous hermaphrodite, Crepidula fornicata (Gastropoda, Calyptraeidae)
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- Hoch, J.M. & Cahill, A.E. Mar Biol (2012) 159: 897. doi:10.1007/s00227-011-1867-4
Protandrous hermaphrodites are predicted to change sex from male to female when relative reproductive fitness of females surpasses that of males. How size at sex transition varies with population, mating group and individual parameters was investigated for five populations of the protandrous hermaphrodite slipper snail, Crepidula fornicata. The populations varied for density, size distribution, average mating group size and sex ratio. Size at sex-change was correlated with the population sex ratio. Comparisons of multiple hypotheses revealed that variables predicting the sex of a snail vary among positions in the mating group. The variables included body size, the relative size of the snail sitting atop the focal snail and population density. Our data support the conclusions that size at sex-change (and by inference, the size at which one sex has relatively greater fitness) is not fixed for these hermaphrodites and that individual size, social conditions and population differences all influence variation in relative fitness.