Female Fire Salamanders Can Store Sperm For Months

In many anuran (frog and toad) species, females have a sperm-storage organ (a spermatheca) that enables them to keep sperm for long periods of time.

This too can allow for the possibility of female choice when it comes to post-copulatory selection of a particular seed.

Female fire salamanders (Salamandra salamandra) can store sperm for several months. They collect sperm deposits from many potential suitors during this period.

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In this scenario, there is a distinct decoupling between the process of copulation, fertilization, and larval deposition.

In general, copulation occurs one year before a female gives birth to between thirty and fifty fully developed larvae, which she will deposit in streams and ponds during the spring.

Females that collect donations from several males have been shown to have a much higher reproductive success than those that do not, indicating that multiple mating ensures a higher fertilization success.

It’s clear that polyandry has the potential to increase the biological fitness of females through increased chances of successful fertilization, genetic compatibility, and sperm competition.


This post is an adapted excerpt from my book “Wild Sex: The Science Behind Mating in the Animal Kingdom

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