Effects of body size on courtship role, mating frequency and sperm transfer in the land snail **Succinea putris**
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Animal behaviour. - London
, p. 1125-1133
University of Antwerp
Sex role preferences in simultaneous hermaphrodites may vary with individual condition and partner quality across consecutive matings. Theoretical and empirical studies have highlighted an individual's body size and its relation with the partner's body size as potential factors that influence the preferred sex role. We studied effects of body size of focal individuals and partners on (1) mating frequency and mating interval, (2) courtship role and (3) number of sperm donated in successive copulations in the land snail Succinea putris where active individuals mount the shell of their passive partner before penises are intromitted reciprocally. We found body size-dependent differences in mating behaviour between small and large individuals: (1) smaller individuals of mating pairs were more likely to adopt the active role, (2) small individuals seemed to prefer inseminating larger partners, (3) a positive relation between body size and sperm number donated was found, (4) large individuals adjusted sperm number to their partner's body size, and (5) the smallest number of sperm was donated by large focal individuals to small partners. In addition, the number of sperm donated (1) increased with longer mating intervals and (2) decreased in later copulations indicating that the number of previous matings may affect male resource allocation. Our results support the view of models of sex role preferences, gender conflicts and solutions to gender conflicts that predict that the preferred sex role is variable within a species (e.g. size-dependent sex allocation models and the gender ratio hypothesis).