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Evolution. 2015 Oct;69(10):2613-24. doi: 10.1111/evo.12766. Epub 2015 Sep 16.

Sperm competition and the evolution of precopulatory weapons: Increasing male density promotes sperm competition and reduces selection on arm strength in a chorusing frog.

Author information

1
Centre for Evolutionary Biology, School of Animal Biology (M092), The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA, 6009, Australia. bruno.buzatto@gmail.com.
2
Centre for Evolutionary Biology, School of Animal Biology (M092), The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA, 6009, Australia.
3
Centre of Excellence in Natural Resource Management, The University of Western Australia, PO Box 3771, Albany, WA, 6332, Australia.

Abstract

Sperm competition theory assumes a trade-off between precopulatory traits that increase mating success and postcopulatory traits that increase fertilization success. Predictions for how sperm competition might affect male expenditure on these traits depend on the number of competing males, the advantage gained from expenditure on weapons, and the level of sperm competition. However, empirical tests of sperm competition theory rarely examine precopulatory male expenditure. We investigated how variation in male density affects precopulatory sexual selection on male weaponry and the level of sperm competition in the chorusing frog Crinia georgiana, where males use their arms as weapons in male-male combat. We measured body size and arm girth of 439 males, and recorded their mating success in the field. We found density-dependent selection acting on arm girth. Arm girth was positively associated with mating success, but only at low population densities. Increased male density was associated with higher risk and intensity of sperm competition arising from multimale amplexus, and a reversal in the direction of selection on arm girth. Opposing patterns of pre- and postcopulatory selection may account for the negative covariation between arm girth and testes across populations of this species.

KEYWORDS:

Anura; contest competition; multiple amplexus; polyandry; precopulatory sexual selection

PMID:
26375605
DOI:
10.1111/evo.12766
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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