Crayfish Use Urine to Send Sex Signals

HULL, England, March 30 (UPI) — British scientists say they’ve found walking through urine produces a sexual fighting frenzy in crayfish, ensuring that only the strongest males mate.

University of Hull researchers Fiona Berry and Thomas Breithaupt said they investigated the effects of urine-based chemical signaling used by sexually active crayfish.

“Our results confirm that females initiate courtship behavior; males will only attempt to mate if they receive urinary signals from the female. Females, however, send a mixed message by releasing an aphrodisiac while also acting very aggressively towards the males.”

The scientists hypothesize the females might profit in different ways from displaying such conflicting signals. For example, by stimulating aggressive behavior in males, females can gauge male size and strength and thereby ensure only the fittest males get to fertilize their eggs.

“Timing seems to be key to this interaction as urine induces aggression in both sexes,” the researchers said. “Males will discontinue urine release early in the sexual encounter, which may mitigate the female’s antagonism and enhance mating success.”

The study is reported in the journal BMC Biology.

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