The common occurrence of polyandry continues to puzzle evolutionary biologists, as female reproductive success is thought to be limited mostly by her fecundity. Here we test whether females of the bulb mite, a species in which the females are highly promiscuous, benefit from polyandry in terms of increased fitness of their progeny. Females were given opportunity to mate with either one or six males, but the experiment was designed to allow the same number of matings per female in both groups, that is, irrespective of the number of males. We found that daughters of females mated to six males had significantly higher fecundity than daughters of females mated to one male, whereas other fitness components of progeny (male virility and longevity of both sexes) were not affected. These findings appear to support hypotheses proposing that multi-male mating enables females to exercise postcopulatory mate-choice (direct or indirect, via sperm competition) and thus accrue genetic benefits.
Corresponding Editor: D. Wheeler