Female frogs promiscuous for children’s sake

September 22nd, 2008 - 10:44 am ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Sep 22 (IANS) The female of a tiny frog species, a little more than an inch long, mates with eight males sequentially - the highest recorded of any vertebrate, for the sake of healthier offsprings. Phillip Byrne, of Monash University’s School of Biological Sciences, made the startling discovery after six years of researching Bibron’s toadlet.

“This level of promiscuity is a new record among vertebrates and certainly supports the old adage of not putting all your eggs in one basket,” Byrne added.

“Our study advances our understanding of female promiscuity by being the first to show that promiscuous females can safeguard against choosing fathers that provide poor homes for their offspring.

“It is becoming increasingly apparent that females in many animal species choose to mate with multiple partners as a safeguard against choosing a genetically inferior sire, but insurance against a father who provides a lousy home is a novel and potentially widespread explanation for the evolution of female promiscuity,” Byrne said.

“Our study revealed that females made the active decision to distribute their eggs between the nests of up to eight different males,” Byrne said.

Byrne led the study with colleague Scott Keogh from Australian National University, in Jervis Bay National Park. They worked from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. seven days a week for over four months and kept track of almost 100 frogs, reports Sciencealert.

Using DNA markers, Byrne found females that distributed their available eggs between the nests of more males, as opposed to leaving them in one nest, had elevated offspring survival, presumably by insuring against nest failure.

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society of London.

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