Males of many species allocate sperm to ejaculates strategically in response to variation in the risk and intensity of sperm competition. The notable exception is passerine birds, in which evidence for strategic allocation is absent. Here we report the results of a study testing for strategic ejaculate allocation in a passerine bird, the sand martin (Riparia riparia). Natural ejaculates were collected from males copulating with a model female. Ejaculates transferred in the presence of a rival male contained significantly more sperm than ejaculates transferred in the absence of a rival male. There was no evidence that this difference was due to the confounding effects of the year of ejaculate collection, the identity of the model female, the colony, the stage of season or the period of the day in which ejaculates were collected. A more detailed examination of the ejaculate patterns of individual males, achieved by the DNA profiling of ejaculates, provided additional evidence for strategic allocation of sperm
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