The evolution of polyandry: an examination of the genetic incompatibility and good-sperm hypotheses


Leigh W. Simmons, Evolutionary Biology Research Group, Department of Zoology, The University of Western Australia, Nedlands, WA 6009, Australia. Tel.: +8 9380 2221; fax: +8 9380 1029; e-mail:


I have examined the adaptive significance of polyandry using the Australian field cricket Teleogryllus oceanicus. Previous studies of polyandry have examined differences in offspring production by females mated multiply to a single male or females mated multiply to different males. Here I combine this approach with a study of parentage of offspring produced in the later group. Females mated to two different males had a higher proportion of their eggs hatching than did females mating twice with a single male. Offspring fitness parameters were not effected. There was little evidence to suggest that females elevate their hatching success via fertilizing their eggs with sperm from genetically compatible males. Although the average paternity points towards random sperm mixing, there was considerable individual variation in sperm competition success. Patterns of parentage were consistent across females mating twice or four times. Sperm competition success was not related to offspring viability or performance. Thus, the notion that competitively superior sperm produce competitively superior offspring is not supported either. The mechanism underlying increased hatching success with polyandry requires further study.