Sperm competition and the evolution of precopulatory weapons: Testis size and amplexus position, but not arm strength, affect fertilization success in a chorusing frog

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Abstract

Trade-offs between pre- and postcopulatory traits influence their evolution, and male expenditure on such traits is predicted to depend on the number of competitors, the benefits from investing in weapons, and the risk and intensity of sperm competition. Males of the chorusing frog Crinia georgiana use their arms as weapons in contest competition. Previously, we showed that increased numbers of rivals elevated the risk and intensity of sperm competition due to multimale amplexus, and caused a reversal in the direction of precopulatory selection on arm girth. Here, we focused on the factors affecting postcopulatory fertilization success during group spawning, using paternity data from natural choruses. Competitive fertilization success depended on the time spent amplexed and amplexus position. Relative testes size but not arm girth, contributed to fertilization success, but the effect of testes size depended on amplexus position. Our findings offer within species empirical support for recent sperm competition models that incorporate precopulatory male–male competition, and show why an understanding of the evolution of animal weapons requires a consideration of both pre- and postcopulatory episodes of sexual selection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-341
Number of pages13
JournalEvolution
Volume71
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017

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