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Ejaculate quality and constraints in relation to sperm competition levels among eutherian mammals


Lüpold, Stefan (2013). Ejaculate quality and constraints in relation to sperm competition levels among eutherian mammals. Evolution, 67(10):3052-3060.

Abstract

The outcome of sperm competition is influenced by the relative quantity and quality of sperm among competing ejaculates. Whereas it is well established that individual ejaculate traits evolve rapidly under postcopulatory sexual selection, little is known about other factors that might influence the evolution of ejaculates. For example, the metabolic rate is likely to affect the sperm production rate and the cellular activity or metabolism of sperm, and it has recently been suggested to constrain the evolution of sperm length in large but not small mammals. I thus examined in eutherian mammals how ejaculate quality traits vary with one another and with testis mass, body size, and metabolism. I found all ejaculate traits to covary positively with one another and to increase with relative testis mass. When controlling for testis mass, small-bodied species showed superior sperm quality (but not sperm number). Furthermore, sperm motility and viability were positively associated with the mass-corrected metabolic rate, but the percentage of morphologically normal and acrosome-intact sperm were not. These results indicate that body size and the energy budget may also influence the evolution of ejaculate quality, although these influences appear to vary among traits.

Abstract

The outcome of sperm competition is influenced by the relative quantity and quality of sperm among competing ejaculates. Whereas it is well established that individual ejaculate traits evolve rapidly under postcopulatory sexual selection, little is known about other factors that might influence the evolution of ejaculates. For example, the metabolic rate is likely to affect the sperm production rate and the cellular activity or metabolism of sperm, and it has recently been suggested to constrain the evolution of sperm length in large but not small mammals. I thus examined in eutherian mammals how ejaculate quality traits vary with one another and with testis mass, body size, and metabolism. I found all ejaculate traits to covary positively with one another and to increase with relative testis mass. When controlling for testis mass, small-bodied species showed superior sperm quality (but not sperm number). Furthermore, sperm motility and viability were positively associated with the mass-corrected metabolic rate, but the percentage of morphologically normal and acrosome-intact sperm were not. These results indicate that body size and the energy budget may also influence the evolution of ejaculate quality, although these influences appear to vary among traits.

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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:basal metabolic rate; body size; energy budget; postcopulatory sexual selection; sperm competition; sperm number; sperm quality
Language:English
Date:October 2013
Deposited On:28 Oct 2015 13:48
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 19:27
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0014-3820
Funders:Swiss National Science Foundation
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/evo.12132
PubMed ID:24094354

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