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 Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

nachricht How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>