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For females, a little semen may go a long way

For most guys in the animal kingdom, sex is a once-and-done event. Females from species like rabbits and cows get sperm from their mates and not much else. But in a Forum article published in Trends in Ecology & Evolution, researchers suggest that these limited encounters can supply resources to females in seminal fluid, and females might have evolved to seek out such seminal resources, even when the amount of fluid is small.

“Traditionally, the idea is that when this type of mating takes place, there’s no resource transfer and there’s no paternal care,” says senior author Russell Bonduriansky, an evolutionary ecologist at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). “Males contribute DNA to fertilize an egg, but we believe there’s something more complex going on.”

This image shows a female neriid fly laying eggs while males compete for access to her
This image shows a female neriid fly (Telostylinus angusticollis, lower right) laying eggs while males compete for access to her
Image Credit: Russell Bonduriansky