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 Study suggests oysters offer hot spot for reducing nutrient pollution
17.10.2017 | Virginia Institute of Marine Science

nachricht World first for reading digitally encoded synthetic molecules
17.10.2017 | CNRS

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

Im Focus: New nanomaterial can extract hydrogen fuel from seawater

Hybrid material converts more sunlight and can weather seawater's harsh conditions

It's possible to produce hydrogen to power fuel cells by extracting the gas from seawater, but the electricity required to do it makes the process costly. UCF...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study suggests oysters offer hot spot for reducing nutrient pollution

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

17.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

World first for reading digitally encoded synthetic molecules

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>