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Sperm precedence in zebra finches does not require special mechanisms of sperm competition

By N. Colegrave, T.R. Birkhead and C.M. Lessells

Abstract

Competition between the spermatozoa of different males to fertilize the eggs of a single female acts as a selection pressure on the behaviour of males and females. However, quantitative predictions about behaviour fan only be made if the paternity consequences of different patterns of copulation are known. Because exhaustive empirical measurement of these consequences may be impractical, interest has centred on determining the mechanisms by which sperm competition occurs, knowledge of which may allow consequences to be calculated. One method of elucidating mechanisms of sperm competition is to use mathematical models to determine which mechanisms are necessary or sufficient to account for empirical observations. We use this approach for zebra finches Taeniopygia guttata and show that empirically measured rates of disappearance of sperm from the reproductive tract, and differences in the number of sperm in the first and subsequent ejaculates of each male, are sufficient to account for observed levels of sperm precedence. Special mechanisms of sperm competition, such as displacement or stratification of sperm, are therefore unnecessary to explain sperm precedence in this species.\u

Year: 1995
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.whiterose.ac.uk:544

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