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Evolution. 2003 Jan;57(1):173-6.

Linear models for assessing mechanisms of sperm competition: the trouble with transformations.

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Behavior, Ecology, Evolution and Systematics Section, Department of Biological Sciences, Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois 61790-4120, USA.


Although sperm competition is a pervasive selective force shaping the reproductive tactics of males, the mechanisms underlying different patterns of sperm precedence remain obscure. Parker et al. (1990) developed a series of linear models designed to identify two of the more basic mechanisms: sperm lotteries and sperm displacement; the models can be tested experimentally by manipulating the relative numbers of sperm transferred by rival males and determining the paternity of offspring. Here we show that tests of the model derived for sperm lotteries can result in misleading inferences about the underlying mechanism of sperm precedence because the required inverse transformations may lead to a violation of fundamental assumptions of linear regression. We show that this problem can be remedied by reformulating the model using the actual numbers of offspring sired by each male, and log-transforming both sides of the resultant equation. Reassessment of data from a previous study (Sakaluk and Eggert 1996) using the corrected version of the model revealed that we should not have excluded a simple sperm lottery as a possible mechanism of sperm competition in decorated crickets, Gryllodes sigillatus.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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