Sexual selection and ageing: Interplay between pre- and post-copulatory traits senescence in the guppy

Clelia Gasparini, Alessandro Devigili, Andrea Pilastro

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21 Citations (Web of Science)


Traits associated with mating and fertilization success are expected to senesce with age, but limited information is available on their relative rates of senescence. In polyandrous species, male reproductive fitness depends on both mating and fertilization success. Because successful mating is a prerequisite for post-copulatory sexual selection, ejaculate traits are expected to senesce faster than pre-copulatory traits, as precopulatory sexual selection is often deemed to be stronger than post-copulatory sexual selection. This pattern has generally been found in the few empirical studies conducted so far. We tested this prediction in the guppy (Poecilia reticulata), a livebearing fish characterized by intense sperm competition, by comparing the expression of male sexual traits at two ages (four and nine months). Contrary to prediction, we found that post-copulatory traits senesced at a significantly slower rate than pre-copulatory traits. We also looked at whether early investment in those sexual traits affects longevity, and the interaction between sperm age (duration of sperm storage inside the male) and male age. Our results suggest that the relative senescence rate of pre- and post-copulatory sexual traits may vary among species with different mating systems and ecology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20182873
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1897
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2019


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