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Urine sprays during courtship send mixed messages

Date:
March 30, 2010
Source:
BioMed Central
Summary:
Walking through urine drives crayfish into an aggressive sexual frenzy. Researchers suggest that a urine-mediated combination of aggressive and reproductive behavior ensures that only the strongest males get to mate.

Two crayfish fight in a cloud of visualized urine.
Credit: Fiona Berry

Walking through urine drives crayfish into an aggressive sexual frenzy. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Biology suggest that a urine-mediated combination of aggressive and reproductive behaviour ensures that only the strongest males get to mate.

Fiona Berry and Thomas Breithaupt from the University of Hull, UK, investigated the effects of urine-based chemical signaling on sexually active crayfish. Breithaupt said, "Our results confirm that females initiate courtship behavior; males will only attempt to mate if they receive urinary signals from the female. Females, however, send a mixed message by releasing an aphrodisiac while also acting very aggressively towards the males."

Females could profit in different ways from displaying such conflicting signals. By stimulating aggressive behaviour in males, females can gauge male size and strength and thereby ensure that only the fittest males get to fertilise their eggs.

According to the researchers, "Timing seems to be key to this interaction as urine induces aggression in both sexes. Males will discontinue urine release early in the sexual encounter, which may mitigate the female's antagonism and enhance mating success."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BioMed Central. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Fiona C Berry and Thomas Breithaupt. To signal or not to signal? Chemical communication by urine-borne signals mirrors sexual conflict in crayfish. BMC Biology, (in press) [link]

Cite This Page:

BioMed Central. "Urine sprays during courtship send mixed messages." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 March 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100329203232.htm>.
BioMed Central. (2010, March 30). Urine sprays during courtship send mixed messages. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100329203232.htm
BioMed Central. "Urine sprays during courtship send mixed messages." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100329203232.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

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