In the Australian myobatrachid frog Crinia georgiana simultaneous polyandry occurs in about half of all matings, which leads to multiple paternity, but reduced fertilization success and occasional female mortality. Multiple paternity may provide benefits to females that compensate for these costs, for example, through enhanced genetic diversity of a clutch. In nature, embryos and tadpoles of C. georgiana develop in shallow, temporary pools and may be exposed to fluctuating water levels and the risk of desiccation between rain events. Fertilization by genetically diverse sires may act as a bet hedge against these conditions. To evaluate this hypothesis, females were artificially mated with one or two males in the field and eggs and larvae reared in the laboratory under constant or fluctuating developmental conditions. Experiment 1 exposed embryos from single- and multiple-paternity clutches to conditions where eggs were completely covered during development or eggs sat in air on a moist substrate. Experiment 2 exposed freshly hatched larvae from single- and multiple-paternity clutches to constant wet conditions, where larvae were completely covered, or fluctuating wet conditions, where larvae ranged from being completely submersed to partially exposed over a 13- day cycle. We measured mean performance and best performance as alternate measures of genetic benefits. There were no effects of paternity on percent survival to hatching, time to hatching, body size at hatching, percent survival to metamorphosis, time to metamorphosis, or body size at metamorphosis. We also analyzed variance within clutches as a measure of genetic diversity. Again there were no predictable effects of multiple paternity. Polyandry does not appear to provide any genetic benefits that compensate for the high costs of polyandry in this species.
Corresponding Editor: B. Sullivan