August 23, 2012
Fitness Benefits For Female Sea Slugs May Come From Traumatic Mating
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
A report published Aug. 22 in the open access journal PLOS ONE states that, despite the nature of their mating being very traumatic and biologically costly, the female sea slug will mate more often than required to in order to reproduce.
The mating behavior of a simultaneously hermaphroditic species of sea slug was examined by Rolanda Lange of the University of Tuebingen in Germany, who led the study, along with colleagues. This bizarre ritual involved stabbing the partner with a syringe-like penile appendage to inject prostate fluids and sperm.
The researchers were surprised to find that the sea slugs mate more often than they need to for the purpose of reproduction. Elevated and reduced mating rates are important to female fitness, which suggests that there may be some added, indirect benefits to this traumatic mating than just reproduction.