The bold and the sperm: positive association between boldness and sperm number in the guppy

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Abstract

Assessing the consequences of personality traits on reproductive success is one of the most important challenges in personality studies and critical to understand the evolutionary implications of behavioural variability among animals. Personality traits are typically associated with mating acquisition in males, and, hence, linked to variation in their reproductive success. However, in most species, sexual selection continues after mating, and sperm traits (such as sperm number and quality) become very important in determining post-mating competitive success. Here, we investigate whether variation in personality traits is associated with variation in sperm traits using the guppy (Poecilia reticulata), a species with high levels of sperm competition. We found a positive association between boldness and sperm number but not sperm velocity, suggesting that bolder males have increased post-copulatory success than shyer individuals. No association was found between exploration and sperm traits. Our work highlights the importance of considering post-copulatory traits when investigating fitness consequences of personality traits, especially in species with high levels of female multiple matings and hence sperm competition.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Volume6
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019

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Poecilia reticulata
spermatozoa
sperm competition
sexual selection
animals

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title = "The bold and the sperm: positive association between boldness and sperm number in the guppy",
abstract = "Assessing the consequences of personality traits on reproductive success is one of the most important challenges in personality studies and critical to understand the evolutionary implications of behavioural variability among animals. Personality traits are typically associated with mating acquisition in males, and, hence, linked to variation in their reproductive success. However, in most species, sexual selection continues after mating, and sperm traits (such as sperm number and quality) become very important in determining post-mating competitive success. Here, we investigate whether variation in personality traits is associated with variation in sperm traits using the guppy (Poecilia reticulata), a species with high levels of sperm competition. We found a positive association between boldness and sperm number but not sperm velocity, suggesting that bolder males have increased post-copulatory success than shyer individuals. No association was found between exploration and sperm traits. Our work highlights the importance of considering post-copulatory traits when investigating fitness consequences of personality traits, especially in species with high levels of female multiple matings and hence sperm competition.",
author = "Clelia Gasparini and Lizzie Speechley and Giovanni Polverino",
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