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Dart receipt promotes sperm storage in the garden snail Helix aspersa


During courtship, many helicid snails attempt to pierce the body walls of their mating partners with mucus-coated calcareous darts. The mucus covering the dart induces conformational changes in the female reproductive tract of the recipient, closing off the entrance to the gametolytic bursa copulatrix. We have tested the effect of dart receipt on the number of sperm stored by once-mated snails, Helix aspersa. Snails that were hit by darts stored significantly more sperm than did snails that were missed. Additionally, the effect of the dart was stronger in smaller animals and the number of sperm stored decreased with the shell volume of the recipient. Although larger animals produced larger spermatophores, dart-shooting success was not related to the number of sperm transferred. These data suggest a role for dart-shooting in post-copulatory sexual selection.

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Rogers, D.W., Chase, R. Dart receipt promotes sperm storage in the garden snail Helix aspersa . Behav Ecol Sociobiol 50, 122–127 (2001).

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