Sperm competitiveness in frogs: slow and steady wins the race

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    When sperm compete to fertilize available ova, selection is expected to favour ejaculate traits that contribute to a male's fertilization success. While there is much evidence to show that selection favours increased numbers of sperm, only a handful of empirical studies have examined how variation in sperm form and function contributes to competitive fertilization success. Here, we examine selection acting on sperm form and function in the externally fertilizing myobatrachid frog, Crinia georgiana. Using in vitro fertilization techniques and controlling for variation in the number of sperm contributed by males in competitive situations, we show that males with a greater proportion of motile sperm, and motile sperm with slower swimming velocities, have an advantage when competing for fertilizations. Sperm morphology and the degree of genetic similarity between putative sires and the female had no influence on competitive fertilization success. These unusual patterns of selection might explain why frog sperm typically exhibit relatively slow swimming speeds and sustained longevity.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3955-3961
    JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
    Issue number1675
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


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