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Keywords:

  • Arianta arbustorum;
  • cryptic female choice;
  • simultaneous hermaphrodite;
  • sperm competition;
  • sperm storage

Abstract

The morphology of the sperm storage organ (spermatheca) may influence the outcome of sperm competition in a variety of invertebrate species. Simultaneously hermaphroditic pulmonates show considerable inter- and intraspecific variation in the structure of the spermatheca. The morphological variation in the spermatheca (number of spermathecal tubules and tubule length) and the amount of sperm stored in the tubules in 115 individuals of the simultaneously hermaphroditic land snail Arianta arbustorum (L.) from six natural populations in the Eastern Alps (Gesäuse, Austria) was examined. The populations differed in snail density, therefore in the number of potential mating partners (range: 0.9–39.8 individuals/m2) and thus in the sperm competition risk. The number of spermathecal tubules ranged from two to nine. However, the six populations did not differ in either the mean number of spermathecal tubules, the length of the main tubule (range 0.9–3.4 mm), or in the cumulative length of the tubules (range 1.5–7.8 mm). The number of tubules and tubule length were not correlated with either shell height and shell breadth or with population density. The amount of sperm stored in the spermathecal tubules was estimated. Individuals from different populations did not differ in the amount of sperm stored, and the amount of sperm stored was not correlated with population density. Results indicate that the risk of sperm competition does not affect the complexity of the spermatheca (number of spermathecal tubules) in this snail. However, the possibility that individuals in high-density populations store sperm from more different mating partners than those in low-density populations remains to be examined.