Genital dimorphism in natural populations of the land snail Chondrina clienta and the influence of the environment on its expression
Article first published online: 23 MAR 2009
Journal of Zoology
Volume 231, Issue 2, pages 275–284, October 1993
How to Cite
Baur, B., Chen, X. and Baur, A. (1993), Genital dimorphism in natural populations of the land snail Chondrina clienta and the influence of the environment on its expression. Journal of Zoology, 231: 275–284. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7998.1993.tb01917.x
- Issue published online: 23 MAR 2009
- Article first published online: 23 MAR 2009
- Accepted 26 October 1992
Several species of simultaneously hermaphroditic land snails show a genital dimorphism: aphallic individuals differ from euphallic ones by a lack of male copulatory organs (penis plus genital retractor muscle). Aphallic individuals can self-fertilize or outcross as females but not as males. Thus, the mating system of a population may be significantly influenced by the proportion of aphallic individuals.
We present data on the frequency of aphally in 23 natural populations of the rock-dwelling land snail Chondrina clienta on the Baltic island of Öland, Sweden. The populations varied greatly in percentage of aphallic individuals, ranging from 52.2 to 99.1%, (grand mean 77.7%)). This variation did not follow any geographical pattern.
In a laboratory experiment, we examined whether food supply (high or low) and/or population density (high or low) experienced during ontogeny affected the expression of genital dimorphism. Snails derived from a population with 99.1% aphallic individuals and raised under different food and density conditions did not differ from the original population in frequency of aphally. By contrast, when snails from a population with 66.7% aphallic individuals were raised on a low food supply, more individuals became euphallic than expected under complete genetic determination. These results suggest that, in addition to a genetic component. the expression of the genital dimorphism can be influenced by environmental conditions.