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Keywords:

  • Genetic diversity;
  • multiple paternity;
  • polyandry;
  • sire evenness

Abstract

Mating multiply may incur costs, such as exposure to predators and to sexually transmitted diseases. Nevertheless, it may be favored, in spite of these costs, as a way to increase the genetic diversity of offspring through fertilization by multiple males. Here, we tested for multiple paternity in a freshwater snail (Potamopyrgus antipodarum), which is host to several species of sterilizing trematode worms. Using microsatellites markers, we found multiple paternity in two different snail populations, with as many as seven males fertilizing a single female. In addition, high evenness of sire fertilization was found within individual broods. Multiple paternity can occur for a variety of reasons; however, given that these populations experience high risk of infection by a sterilizing trematode, one potential explanation may be that multiple paternity and high evenness of sire fertilizations increase the chances of the production of parasite-resistant offspring.