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The unexpected mating system of the androdioecious barnacle Chelonibia testudinaria (Linnaeus 1758)

ABSTRACT

Androdioecy was first described by Darwin in his seminal work on barnacle diversity; he identified males and hermaphrodites in the same reproductive population. Today, we realize that many androdioecious plants and animals share astonishing similarities, particularly with regard to their evolutionary history and mating system. Notably, these species were ancestrally dioecious, and their mating system has the following characteristics: hermaphrodites self‐fertilize frequently, males are more successful in large mating groups, and males have a mating advantage. A male mating advantage makes androdioecy more likely to persist over evolutionary times. Androdioecious barnacles, however, appear to persist as an outlier with a different evolutionary trajectory: they originate from hermaphroditic species. Although sexual systems of androdioecious barnacles are known, no information on the mating system of androdioecious barnacles is available. This study assessed the mating system of the androdioecious barnacle Chelonibia testudinaria. In contrast to other androdioecious species, C. testudinaria does not self‐fertilize, males do not have a mating advantage over hermaphrodites, and the average mating group is quite small, averaging only three individuals. Mating success is increased by proximity to the mate and penis length. Taken together, the mating system of C. testudinaria is unusual in comparison with other androdioecious plants and animals, and the lack of a male mating advantage suggests that the mating system alone does not provide an explanation for the maintenance of androdioecy in this species. Instead, we propose that sex‐specific life history equalizes male and hermaphroditic overall fitness.