Sperm transfer through forced matings and its evolutionary implications in natural guppy (Poecilia reticulata) populations

Jon Evans, A. Pilastro, I.W. Ramnarine

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    62 Citations (Scopus)


    In species in which individuals alternate between mating strategies, males may respond to elevated predation risk by switching from conspicuous courtship displays to less risky or more profitable sneaky mating attempts. As a consequence, in such species female choice is likely to be undermined more frequently in relatively dangerous localities. We tested this prediction using the guppy, a species of fish in which individual males alternate between courtship (solicited) and forced (unsolicited) copulations according to prevailing levels of predation. We collected females at late stages of gestation from four high- and four low-predation populations in Trinidad and examined them for the presence of sperm in their gonoducts. Due to the patterns of sperm storage in guppies, sperm found in the gonoducts of such late-cycle females can only arise from unsolicited copulations. We anticipated that because female guppies are subject to greater sexual harassment in the form of forced mating attempts in high-risk localities, a higher proportion of females in these populations would contain sperm in their gonoducts arising from recent unsolicited copulations. Contrary to this prediction, only one of the four paired comparisons (from the Quare River) revealed a significant difference in the proportion of females recently inseminated through forced copulations. The paired comparisons for the remaining three rivers revealed no significant differences in the proportion of females with recoverable sperm in their gonoducts. However, overall, we found that 44.5% ( +/- 4.3 SE) of females had sperm in their gonoduct arising from sneaky mating, a figure three times higher than previously reported for this species. We discuss these findings in relation to recent predictions concerning the strength of sexual selection in natural populations. (C) 2003 The Linnean Society of London.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)605-612
    JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


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