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Geographical variation in sperm morphology in the red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)


Lüpold, Stefan; Westneat, David F; Birkhead, Tim R (2011). Geographical variation in sperm morphology in the red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus). Evolutionary Ecology, 25(2):373-390.

Abstract

Many species differ genetically, physiologically, and morphologically between geographically distinct populations, typically in response to variation in ecological and climatic variables. Little is known, however, about geographical variation in sperm morphology. Sperm morphology is under strong sexual selection, has been shown to evolve rapidly, and often co-varies with other reproductive traits (e.g., testis size or mating system) that differ between populations in some species. The aim of this study was to establish whether sperm morphology varies between populations of the red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus), a species with an enormous breeding range and marked inter-population variation in both body size and mating system. We found (1) highly significant variation in sperm morphology among study sites, (2) a gradual increase in sperm length from the southwest to the northeast of the breeding range, and (3) a strong negative association between sperm length and body size. However, the relationship with the mating system remains unclear. Several hypotheses to explain these patterns are proposed.

Abstract

Many species differ genetically, physiologically, and morphologically between geographically distinct populations, typically in response to variation in ecological and climatic variables. Little is known, however, about geographical variation in sperm morphology. Sperm morphology is under strong sexual selection, has been shown to evolve rapidly, and often co-varies with other reproductive traits (e.g., testis size or mating system) that differ between populations in some species. The aim of this study was to establish whether sperm morphology varies between populations of the red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus), a species with an enormous breeding range and marked inter-population variation in both body size and mating system. We found (1) highly significant variation in sperm morphology among study sites, (2) a gradual increase in sperm length from the southwest to the northeast of the breeding range, and (3) a strong negative association between sperm length and body size. However, the relationship with the mating system remains unclear. Several hypotheses to explain these patterns are proposed.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Inter-population variation; Mating system; Sperm length; Body size; Icteridae
Language:English
Date:March 2011
Deposited On:28 Oct 2015 13:33
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 19:27
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0269-7653
Funders:Swiss National Science Foundation, Janggen-Poehn Foundation, Leverhulme Trust, Sheffield University ORS Award, NSF LTER Graduate Research Award, Lauff Research Award, KBS Visiting Graduate Student Fellowship, University of Kentucky
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10682-010-9410-5

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