Mate choice and sperm limitation in the spotted spiny lobster, Panulirus guttatus Article

Robertson, DN, Butler Iv., MJ. (2013). Mate choice and sperm limitation in the spotted spiny lobster, Panulirus guttatus . MARINE BIOLOGY RESEARCH, 9(1), 69-76. 10.1080/17451000.2012.727429

cited authors

  • Robertson, DN; Butler Iv., MJ



  • Mate choice by females is influenced by male size, resource provisioning and other proxies for male quality. In decapod crustaceans, mating dynamics are complicated by size-dependent sperm limitation associated with unusually low sperm:egg ratios. We explored how mate size influences mating dynamics in the spotted spiny lobster (Panulirus guttatus), a philopatric species that dwells on shallow and often isolated coral reefs in the Caribbean where choice of mates can be limited. We varied the availability and size of male and female lobsters in a series of laboratory experiments and then quantified courtship behaviour, mate choice and fertilization success of each mating. We found that large males initiated most interactions with other males and won 99% of those encounters. Large males were also more successful in garnering mates, but males of all sizes attempted to mate with all sizes of females. Females nearly always (92% of trials) chose males larger than themselves. However, if large males were unavailable, females mated with smaller males, which resulted in reduced fertilization success. Thus, for species like P. guttatus that dwell in patchy habitats with limited mate availability, the optimal strategy for mate choice is context-dependent, although not without cost to the largest females. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

publication date

  • January 1, 2013

published in

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

start page

  • 69

end page

  • 76


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