Coevolution of male and female reproductive traits in a simultaneously hermaphroditic land snail

Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Kathleen BeeseB Baur


Inter- and intraspecific studies in gonochoristic animals reveal a covariation between sperm characteristics and the size of the female reproductive tract, indicating a rapid evolutionary divergence, which is consistent with the theory of post-copulatory sexual selection. Simultaneous hermaphrodites differ from species with separate sexes (gonochorists) in that they possess both functional male and female reproductive organs at the same time. We investigated whether in hermaphroditic animals intraspecific variation in reproductive traits results from divergent coevolution, by quantifying the variation in male and female traits among six natural populations of the snail Arianta arbustorum and examining the covariation in interacting traits. There was a significant among-population variation in spermatophore volume, number of sperm transferred and sperm length, as well as in volume of the sperm storage organ (spermatheca) and number of tubules, but not in spermatheca length. We found a positive association between sperm number transferred and spermatheca volume. This result suggests that the same post-copulatory mechanisms as in gonochorists drive the correlated evolution of reproductive characters in hermaphrodites.


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Related Concepts

Impacts, Environmental
Biological Evolution
Accessory Sex Organs, Female
Finding of Sperm Number
Y-Chromosome-Bearing Sperm
Variation (Genetics)
Familial XX True Hermaphroditism

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