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Biol Reprod. 2002 Jan;66(1):98-105.

Sperm quality as reflected through morphology in salmon alternative life histories.

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Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden.


Male salmon exhibit alternative mating strategies, as both older anadromous adults and precocious juveniles (parr) participate in the spawning of a single female. This study tested the following hypotheses: 1) different intensities of sperm competition may reflect different sperm tail optima; 2) long spermatozoa are superior to short ones, with an associated cost on sperm longevity; and 3) a disfavored role in sperm competition selects for parr investing more in sperm quality. Comparisons included sperm morphological traits, whereas sperm quality was investigated by motility duration observations, measurement of the sperm adenylate system, and fertilization experiments. No evidence of different adaptive sperm dimensions between the male types was found. Positive association between spermatocrit and energy charge was, however, detected. Sperm length parameters correlated positively with ATP, energy charge, and fertilization success, whereas no evidence for an effect of sperm morphology on longevity was found. Male parr had greater spermatocrit than adults and fertilized equal proportions of eggs as adults despite a pronounced numerical subordinance in the fertilization experiments. It is concluded that a long sperm tail and midpiece may be selected to optimize energetic demands under conditions of increased sperm competition intensity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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