Marine Biology

, Volume 153, Issue 4, pp 599–604 | Cite as

Sex adjustments are not functionally costly in simultaneous hermaphrodites

  • M. C. LorenziEmail author
  • D. Schleicherova
  • G. Sella
Research Article


Because of their double sex functions, hermaphrodites are selected to optimize their investment in the two sex functions. Sex allocation (SA) theory predicts that, in promiscuous mating conditions, simultaneous hermaphrodites should adjust their reproductive investment so as to invest an amount of resources into the male relatively larger than that invested into the female function. In contrast, in monogamy, individuals should invest relatively larger amount of resources into the female function at the expenses of the male function. In the study of SA patterns of simultaneous hermaphrodites little attention has been paid to allocate adjustments costs, which may play an important role in determining variations in SA pattern among species. Indeed, the costs paid for such adjustments may constrain sex investment resulting in suboptimal allocation. We evaluated the costs of SA adjustments on individual fitness in each sexual function in the simultaneous, outcrossing hermaphrodite Ophryotrocha diadema. Following a crossover design, we compared the reproductive success in paternal and maternal offspring of focal hermaphrodites, which were put in replicated monogamous and promiscuous regimes. We document that those hermaphrodites that switched mating regimes and altered their sex investment accordingly did not entail large short-term fitness costs in any sexual function compared to those that were in stable mating regimes. Indeed, individuals changed their sex investment quickly and appropriately to current mating conditions. Hermaphrodites, which had to adjust their SA, did not decrease their maternal or paternal reproductive output with respect to those which did not change their SA. Time needed to shift resources from one to the other sex function is 5 days (the time interval between successive egg layings is of 3 days) indicating that selective pressures for SA adjustments may favour great plasticity and quick adjustments of sex investments in simultaneous hermaphrodites.


Male Reproductive Success Female Function Simultaneous Hermaphrodite Mating Regime Female Allocation 
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The authors acknowledge that this paper stemmed from fruitful discussions with Lucas Schärer and thank him as well as two anonymous referees who made useful comments to a previous version of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Animal and Human BiologyUniversity of TurinTurinItaly

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