Many marine invertebrate taxa are broadcast spawners, where multiple individuals release their gametes into the water for external fertilization, often in the presence of gametes from heterospecifics. Consequently, sperm encounter the considerable challenges of locating and fertilizing eggs from conspecific females. To overcome these challenges, many taxa exhibit species-specific attraction of sperm toward eggs through chemical signals released from eggs (sperm chemotaxis) and species-specific gamete recognition proteins (GRPs) that mediate compatibility of gametes at fertilization. In this prospective review, we highlight these selective forces, but also emphasize the role that sexual selection, manifested through sperm competition, cryptic female choice, and evolutionary conflicts of interest between the sexes (sexual conflict), can also play in mediating the action of egg chemoattractants and GRPs, and thus individual reproductive fitness. Furthermore, we explore patterns of selection at the level of gametes (sperm phenotype, gamete plasticity, and egg traits) to identify putative traits targeted by sexual selection in these species. We conclude by emphasizing the excellent, but relatively untapped, potential of broadcast-spawning marine invertebrates as model systems to illuminate several areas of research in post-mating sexual selection. © 2013 Marine Biological Laboratory.
|Publication status||Published - 2013|