• Arianta arbustorum;
  • Gastropoda;
  • mating frequency;
  • paternity analysis;
  • population density;
  • self-fertilization

Mating frequency has important implications for patterns of sexual selection and sexual conflict, and hence for issues such as the maintenance of genetic diversity and speciation. We assessed the level of multiple paternity and sperm utilization patterns in four natural populations of the simultaneous hermaphrodite land snail Arianta arbustorum using four polymorphic microsatellite loci. A total of 1088 offspring from 26 wild-caught snails were genotyped to determine the number of fathers siring each brood and paternity skew in succeeding clutches. Multiple paternity was detected in the offspring of all 26 mother snails examined with the contribution of two to six fathers. The four populations examined differed in the level of multiple paternity. Snails in the population with the highest density of adults showed the highest level of multiple paternity, whereas snails in the population with the lowest density exhibited the lowest value of multiple paternity. Highly skewed paternity patterns were found in the progeny of 15 (57.7%) of the 26 mother snails. The number and identity of fathers siring the offspring of single mothers also varied among successive clutches. Furthermore, genetic analyses indicate a low level of self-fertilization in one of the four populations. © 2010 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2010, 99, 350–361.