Data from: Sperm competition games: a general model for pre-copulatory male-male competition

  • Geoff Parker (Creator)
  • Catherine Lessells (Creator)
  • Leigh Simmons (Creator)



Linear (mm) measures of the forearm, and weight (mg) of the body and testes of quacking frogs collected from 10 natural populations in Western Australia.

Reproductive males face a trade-off between expenditure on pre-copulatory male-male competition – increasing the number of females that they secure as mates – and sperm competition – increasing their fertilisation success with those females. Previous sperm allocation models have focused on scramble competition in which males compete by searching for mates and the number of matings rises linearly with pre-copulatory expenditure. However, recent studies have emphasised contest competition involving pre-copulatory expenditure on armaments, where winning contests may be highly dependent on marginal increases in relative armament level. Here we develop a general model of sperm allocation that allows us to examine the effect of all forms of pre-copulatory competition on sperm allocation patterns. The model predicts that sperm allocation decreases if either the ‘mate-competition loading’, a, or the number of males competing for each mating, M, increases. Other predictions remain unchanged from previous models: (i) expenditure per ejaculate should increase and then decrease, and (ii) total post-copulatory expenditure should increase, as the level of sperm competition increases. A negative correlation between a and M is biologically plausible, and may buffer deviations from the previous models. There is some support for our predictions from comparative analyses across dung beetle species and frog populations.
Date made available10 Jul 2012


  • ejaculate allocation
  • contest competition
  • scramble competition
  • weapons
  • life-history trade-off
  • Reproductive Strategies

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