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Promiscuous toads are just hedging their bets

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  • SP News
    Promiscuous toads are just hedging their bets * 13 September 2008 * Emma Young * Magazine issue 2673 WHY do the females of some species mate with as many males
    Message 1 of 3 , Sep 15, 2008

      Promiscuous toads are just hedging their bets

          * 13 September 2008
          * Emma Young
          * Magazine issue 2673

      WHY do the females of some species mate with as many males as possible? The strategy seems to reduce the chance of choosing a male that's infertile, closely related or genetically inferior, but that may not be the whole story. Research on the most promiscuous vertebrates ever studied - Bibron's toadlets - suggests that promiscuity can also lead to a safer home to bring up the kids.

      Phil Byrne at Monash University in Clayton, Victoria, Australia, and Scott Keogh at the Australian National University in Canberra studied toadlets (Pseudophryne bibronii) living in a coastal region of New South Wales. As with many birds, fish and other amphibians, the males are responsible for building the nest and tending to the brood.

      In this species, the male creates a shallow depression in the soil, into which the female lays her eggs. The embryos develop into tadpoles inside thick jelly capsules, then enter a state of suspended development until the nest floods, which might not be for weeks or even months.

      The biggest threat to the tadpoles is that they'll dry out and die before the flood arrives, so a female must choose males with nests that will retain a high level of soil moisture. What's more, the nest needs to be in an area that floods sufficiently and at just the right time in the season.

      Predicting exactly which nests will be best for the job is tricky. Byrne and Keogh discovered that the most successful females hedge their bets by laying eggs in as many nests as possible. All the females they studied mated with at least two males, and some with up to eight. The females that mated with the greatest number of males had significantly more tadpoles hatch than those that mated with just a few (Proceedings of the Royal Society B, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2008.0794).

      From issue 2673 of New Scientist magazine, 13 September 2008, page 12

      The complete article is 423 words long.


    • Michael Rios
      _____ From: sexualparadox@yahoogroups.com [mailto:sexualparadox@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of SP News Promiscuous toads are just hedging their bets Research on
      Message 2 of 3 , Sep 15, 2008

         

         


        From: sexualparadox@yahoogroups.com [mailto:sexualparadox@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of SP News

        Promiscuous toads are just hedging their bets

        Research on the most promiscuous vertebrates ever studied - Bibron's toadlets

         

        All the females they studied mated with at least two males, and some with up to eight.

         

        If these are the most promiscuous vertebrates they’ve ever studied, I should introduce them to some of my friends & lovers!

         

        Michael Rios

      • Chris King
        ... I should introduce them to some of my friends & lovers! ... I think they are referring to reproductive promiscuity, and particularly female reproductive
        Message 3 of 3 , Sep 17, 2008
          > If these are the most promiscuous vertebrates they've ever studied,
          I should introduce them to some of my friends & lovers!
          > Michael Rios

          I think they are referring to reproductive promiscuity, and
          particularly female reproductive promiscuity, not social promiscuity
          for cheap thrills, with plenty of contraception to make it
          biologically meaningless.

          Unless you have fathered a few score offspring yourself?

          How many of the women actually wanted to 'sew wild oats'?
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