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The oxidative cost of competing for egg fertilization exceeds the cost of egg production

Cite this dataset

Lorenzi, Maria Cristina; Robles-Guerrero, Franco; Costantini, David (2022). The oxidative cost of competing for egg fertilization exceeds the cost of egg production [Dataset]. Dryad.


Measuring reproductive costs is crucial to understanding sexual conflict and its evolutionary outcomes. Sexual conflict is thought to originate from anisogamy – the size difference between male and female gametes; if sperm are tiny and not produced in vastly greater numbers than eggs, at any mating females’ gametic investment is larger than that of males. Testing this prediction has proven difficult, especially because males and females differ in many more traits than just gamete size. We overcame this difficulty by exposing simultaneously hermaphroditic polychaete worms Ophryotrocha diadema (two sexual functions in the same body) to two social conditions, pairs and groups>2, where hermaphrodites invest either relatively more in the female function or relatively more in the male function, respectively. Then we measured four markers of cellular oxidative status, a physiological mediator of life-history strategies. Less female-biased hermaphrodites produced fewer eggs but, unexpectedly, had lower levels of antioxidant protection than more female-biased hermaphrodites, which produced more eggs. Male-biased hermaphrodites compete for mating as males (hermaphrodites in pairs do not) suggesting that in the short-term male competition might be costlier than egg production in terms of regulation of oxidative status. These results highlight the need of including behavioral traits, namely competition over egg fertilization, in the measures of reproductive costs.

Usage notes

The archive contains 3 files.

The first .csv file has the data about egg and cocoon production as a function of treatment, density, and level of egg maturity of the worms.

The second .csv file has the data about oxidative stress markers.

The third file has the R scripts used in the analyses of egg production, cocoon production, and oxidative stress measures.


LEEC, Sorbonne Paris Nord University