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Do female amphibians and reptiles have greater reproductive output if they have more mates?

journal contribution
posted on 2022-09-29, 02:50 authored by Patricia LeePatricia Lee, Craig ShermanCraig Sherman, Lee A. Rollins, E Wapstra, K P Phillips
Abstract: In general, males mate with multiple females to increase individual reproductive success. Whether or not, and under what circumstances, females benefit from multiple mating has been less clear. Our review of 154 studies covering 184 populations of amphibians and reptiles showed that polyandry was widespread and variable among and within taxonomic groups. We investigated whether amphibian and reptile females had greater reproductive output as the number of sires for offspring increased. Meta-analysis revealed significant heterogeneity in the dataset of all taxa. Expected heterozygosity was a significant moderator (covariate) of positive relationships between female reproductive output and the number of sires, but a sensitivity test showed the result was tenuous. Significant heterogeneity remained despite controlling for expected heterozygosity and other variables but was resolved for most taxonomic groups with subgroup meta-analyses. Subgroup meta-analyses showed that only female salamanders (Caudata) had significantly greater reproductive output with an increased number of sires. For many species of Caudata, males cannot coerce females into accepting spermatophores. We therefore suggest that if females control the number of matings, they can use polyandry to increase their fitness. Caudata offers ideal models with which to test this hypothesis and to explore factors enabling and maintaining the evolution of female choice. Outstanding problems may be addressed by expanding taxonomic coverage and data collection and improving data reporting. Significance Statement: Many factors and combinations of factors drive polyandry. Whether or not females benefit from mating with more than one male remains equivocal. Focusing on amphibians and reptiles, our analyses demonstrate that female salamanders produced more offspring when mated with multiple males, whereas this was not the case for reptiles. Unlike many other species in our dataset, the polyandrous female salamanders fully control sperm intake and have chosen to mate multiple times. We further highlight problems and key directions for future research in the field.



Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology









Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal