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Evolutionary Modeling Predicts a Decrease in Postcopulatory Sperm Viability as a Response to Increasing Levels of Sperm Competition
The American Naturalist
Vol. 179, No. 5 (May 2012), pp. 667-677
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/665000
Page Count: 11
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AbstractSperm competition has been found to have a strong influence on the evolution of many male and female reproductive traits. Theoretical models have shown that, with increasing levels of sperm competition, males are predicted to increase ejaculate investment, and there is ample empirical evidence supporting this prediction. However, most theoretical models concern sperm number, and although the predictions are likely to apply to other sperm traits that will affect the sperm competitive ability of males, substantiated predictions are difficult unless the evolution of specific traits is explicitly modeled. Here I present a novel theoretical model aiming at predicting evolutionarily stable sperm viability in relation to female mating frequency in a mating system with internal fertilization. At odds with verbal arguments, this model demonstrates that sperm viability is expected to decrease with increasing female remating rates and thus to decrease with increasing levels of sperm competition. The major reason for this is that, with increasing female remating rates, the prospects of future fertilization success will decrease, which acts to reduce the benefit of long-lived viable sperm. An additional interesting result is that, as the cost of sperm viability increases, the overall energy investment in ejaculates will decrease. These novel results should have a strong impact on future sperm competition studies and will also have implications for our understanding of the evolution of female polyandry.
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