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Quantitative genetic evidence that males trade attractiveness for ejaculate quality in guppies

Jonathan P. Evans
Proceedings: Biological Sciences
Vol. 277, No. 1697 (22 October 2010), pp. 3195-3201
Published by: Royal Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20780108
Page Count: 7
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Quantitative genetic evidence that males trade attractiveness for ejaculate quality in guppies
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Abstract

Polyandry, where females mate with multiple males, means that a male's reproductive success will depend both on his ability to acquire mates and the ability of his sperm to compete effectively for fertilizations. But, how do males partition their reproductive investment between these two episodes of selection? Theory predicts that increases in ejaculate investment will come at a cost to investment in other reproductive traits. Although evidence revealing such trade-offs is accumulating, we know little about their genetic basis. Here, I report patterns of genetic (co)variation for a range of traits subject to pre- and post-copulatory sexual selection in the guppy Poecilia reticulata, a promiscuous livebearing fish in which males alternate between courtship and sneak matings to obtain copulations. The analyses of genetic variation and covariation for these behaviours revealed a strong genetic predisposition for one tactic over the other. Both mating tactics were also strongly genetically integrated with the level of sexual ornamentation and ejaculate quality. Males that predominantly performed sneak matings were less ornamented but had faster swimming sperm than those that predominantly used courtship. These patterns of genetic variation and covariation reveal potential evolutionary constraints on the direction of selection of pre- and post-copulatory traits, and support sperm competition theory by revealing a trade-off between sexual attractiveness and investment in ejaculates.

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