Author(s): Stockley P, Gage MJ, Parker GA, Mller AP
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Abstract Fishes show one of the widest ranges of sperm competition intensity of any animal group. Here we present a comparative study whose aim is to investigate the effect of relative intensity of sperm competition on investment in spermatogenesis and the number and size of sperm produced. We find that both the gonadosomatic index (GSI = [gonad weight/body weight] x 100) and sperm numbers increase with intensity of sperm competition across species but that sperm length decreases. These new findings are consistent with a raffle-based mode of sperm competition in fishes. Most of these results (positive correlation of the GSI and sperm number with sperm competition intensity) concur with the predictions of current sperm competition theory. However, we also find that sperm longevity decreases with sperm length across species. Current models for continuous fertilization suggest that if length increases a sperm's speed but decreases its longevity, sperm length should increase with sperm competition intensity, whereas models for instant fertilization suggest that sperm length should remain constant. The negative relationship found between sperm competition and sperm length therefore does not fit predictions of either model.
This article was published in Am Nat
and referenced in Andrology-Open Access