The effects of perceived mating opportunities on patterns of reproductive investment by male guppies

Luke Barrett, Jon Evans, Clelia Gasparini

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    Males pay considerable reproductive costs in acquiring mates (precopulatory sexual selection) and in producing ejaculates that are effective at fertilising eggs in the presence of competing ejaculates (postcopulatory sexual selection). Given these costs, males must balance their reproductive investment in a given mating to optimise their future reproductive potential. Males are therefore expected to invest in reproduction prudently according to the likelihood of obtaining future matings. In this study we tested this prediction by determining whether male reproductive investment varies with expected future mating opportunities, which were experimentally manipulated by visually exposing male guppies (Poecilia reticulata ) to high or low numbers of females in the absence of competing males. Our experiment did not reveal consistent effects of perceived future mating opportunity on either precopulatory (male mate choice and mating behaviour) or postcopulatory (sperm quality and quantity) investment. However, we did find that male size and female availability interacted to influence mating behaviour; large males visually deprived of females during the treatment phase became more choosy and showed greater interest in their preferred female than those given continuous visual access to females. Overall, our results suggest males tailor pre- rather than postcopulatory traits according to local female availability, but critically, these effects depend on male size. © 2014 Barrett et al.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere93780
    Number of pages8
    JournalPLoS One
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2014


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