Nocturnal mating behaviour and dynamic male investment of copulation time in the southern blue-ringed octopus

P. Morse, K.R. Zenger, M.I. Mccormick, Mark Meekan, C.L. Huffard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


© 2015 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands. The southern blue-ringed octopus, Hapalochlaena maculosaHoyle (1883), is a nocturnal species that exhibits a mating system in which females hold sperm from multiple males over a one to two month breeding window before laying a single egg clutch. Contrary to most studied animal mating systems where anisogamy exists, gamete package production is limited for both males and females of this species (approx. 50 spermatophores/eggs). This presents an animal model for studying aspects of sperm competition and dynamic mate choice behaviours. The present study reports on the mating behaviour of H. maculosaobserved under laboratory conditions using infrared closed-circuit television video footage. Rates of male copulation attempts increased with male size, while female receptivity to mating attempts increased with female size, resulting in larger animals of both sexes gaining more copulations and spending more time per day in copulation. There was some evidence of female preference of larger males, but no male preference of females based on measured morphological traits. Both sexes terminated copulations in equal frequencies but male-terminated copulations were significantly shorter in duration. Males were more likely to terminate copulation early with females they had previously mated with, however were less likely to do so if the female had recently mated with a different male. Among male-terminated copulations, males mated for longer with females that had previously mated with other males in the trial. Male-male mounts were as common as male-female mounts, suggesting that male H. maculosaare not able to discriminate the sex of conspecifics. These findings suggest male strategic allocation of spermatophores based female mating history is an important factor influencing mating behaviours of this species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1883-1910
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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