Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scared snails opt for single parenthood rather than wait for a mate

17.08.2010
Solitary snails change their dating and mating strategy when danger is near

Solitary snails in search of a mate put off parenthood as long as possible in the hopes that a partner will appear. But when Physa acuta snails smell predators, they don't wait as long for a mate. Scared snails settle for single parenthood much sooner than their calm counterparts, says a new study by biologist Josh Auld of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in Durham, NC.

"They can't wait for a mate indefinitely — especially if the risk of mortality is high," said Auld.

A brown speckled snail found in rivers, lakes, and streams, the hermaphroditic snail Physa acuta has everything it needs to reproduce — each snail is both male and female at the same time. Because each snail can produce sperm as well as eggs, they have more than one option when it comes to having kids – they can either find a mate, or they can fertilize themselves.

Going solo comes at a price. Baby snails produced by self-fertilization have lower chances of survival. "Self-fertilization is a last-ditch effort," said Auld.

But single parenthood becomes less distasteful when snails detect danger, says a new study in the journal Evolution.

To find out how long snails wait for a mate before reproducing on their own, Auld raised more than 700 snails in separate containers in the presence and absence of partners. Chemical cues in the water alert snails to the presence of predators. By spiking containers with water from a tank where crayfish once fed, Auld allowed half the snails in each group to catch a whiff of crayfish cues. He then measured how long they waited before laying eggs.

Single snails waited two months longer than their coupled counterparts before starting a family and laying their first batch of eggs. But they changed their dating and mating strategy when the risk of being eaten seemed high: Scared snails settled for single parenthood much sooner, said Auld. What's more, the ill effects of inbreeding weren't as bad for snails born in water laced with predator scents.

"The waiting time is shorter when there's a higher risk of mortality," said Auld. "It's better to have inbred offspring than no offspring at all," he added.

CITATION: Auld, J. (2010). "The effects of predation risk on mating system evolution in a freshwater snail." Evolution. doi:10.1111/j.1558-5646.2010.01079.x

The National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) is a nonprofit science center dedicated to cross-disciplinary research in evolution. Funded by the National Science Foundation, NESCent is jointly operated by Duke University, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University. For more information about research and training opportunities at NESCent, visit www.nescent.org.

Robin Ann Smith | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nescent.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
18.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>