Promiscuous snails with complex weaponry: Physiology and evolution of love dart shooting
02 / 2012 - onbekend
Over the past decades, it has become clear that sexual conflict plays a crucial role in shaping the evolution of many behaviours and processes involved in reproduction. Nearly all evidence supporting this comes from species where the sexes are separated. However, a substantial proportion of animals and most plants are hermaphroditic. Therefore, in the proposed research we will take an integrative approach to investigate the effect of sexual conflict on reproductive processes in simultaneous hermaphrodites. Our focus will lie on one of the most prominent examples of extreme mating behaviours in hermaphrodites, the shooting of love darts in lands snails. We aim to simultaneously investigating physiology, sperm transfer, dart shooting behaviour, and reproductive anatomy of different dart-shooting species. In doing so, we will examine the generality of the effect of the love dart?s mucus on the physiology of the reproductive system as well as on paternity, which has so far been demonstrated in only one species. We will integrate this with behavioural data that we will collect on the use of the love dart, and morphological data that we will collect on the reproductive morphology and spermatophore shape (sperm packaging/transfer). We expect the results to contribute significantly to our understanding of sexual conflict in hermaphrodites as well as the evolution of bizarre reproductive strategies in general.