Research NewsMeeting Briefs

How Male Animals Gain an Edge in the Mating Game

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Science  18 Jul 1997:
Vol. 277, Issue 5324, pp. 317-318
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5324.317

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COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND-- At the annual meeting of the Animal Behavior Society here last month, scientists described how male Indian meal moths try to give their sperm an edge in the competition to fertilize the female's eggs. The male moths can size up females and beef up their sperm counts accordingly. They can also change the size of adult body parts to optimize their sperm's chances of success. Other presentations at the meeting suggested that male frogs' ears serve as loudspeakers, amplifying their mating calls, and that the elaborate structures built by male bowerbirds for their mating dances provide a kind of screen, allowing the display to be more vigorous without frightening off the female.