Abstract - Ethology 114:64-74 (2008)

            Precopulatory mate guarding primarily occurs when males encounter receptive females at a low enough rate that such females become a valuable resource once encountered. Such circumstances are common in aquatic crustaceans wherein females are only receptive for a short period directly after molting. In these species, males commonly mate guard by physically attaching themselves to their prospective mates for hours to days at a time. To be effective in mate guarding, males must be able to assess the time to receptivity in their mates, which is commonly via chemical cues associated with molting. Clam shrimp in the genus Eulimnadia exhibit mate guarding, but with an important variation: these species are mixtures of males and hermaphrodites (androdioecy) rather than males and females. Nonetheless, the mate guarding behaviors of these shrimp are much the same as in other aquatic crustaceans. In this study, three projects were undertaken to determine the ability of Eulimnadia texana males to assess hermaphroditic receptivity. Males were found to be unable to assess receptivity without physically contacting hermaphrodites. However, after physical contact, males spent a significantly greater amount of time guarding receptive relative to non-receptive hermaphrodites. Additionally, male interest in mate guarding was highest during the period between the dropping of one clutch of eggs and the extrusion of the following clutch. Because this period is also associated with hermaphroditic molting, it is consistent with the notion that males cue into chemicals associated with molting to determine hermaphroditic receptivity. These findings are consistent with previous studies of mating behavior in this species, and we discuss their importance to future tests of optimal mate guarding planned for these shrimp.

Last Updated : 12/2/11

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