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Sophisticated sperm allocation in male fowl

Pizzari, T., Cornwallis, C.K., Lovlie, H., Jakobssen, S. and Birkhead, T.R. (2003) Sophisticated sperm allocation in male fowl. Nature, 426 (6962). pp. 70-74. ISSN 0028-0836

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Abstract

When a female is sexually promiscuous, the ejaculates of different males compete for the fertilization of her eggs; the more sperm a male inseminates into a female, the more likely he is to fertilize her eggs. Because sperm production is limited and costly, theory predicts that males will strategically allocate sperm (1) according to female promiscuity, (2) saving some for copulations with new females, and (3) to females producing more and/or better offspring. Whether males allocate sperm in all of these ways is not known, particularly in birds where the collection of natural ejaculates only recently became possible. Here we demonstrate male sperm allocation of unprecedented sophistication in the fowl Gallus gallus. Males show status-dependent sperm investment in females according to the level of female promiscuity; they progressively reduce sperm investment in a particular female but, on encountering a new female, instantaneously increase their sperm investment; and they preferentially allocate sperm to females with large sexual ornaments signalling superior maternal investment. Our results indicate that female promiscuity leads to the evolution of sophisticated male sexual behaviour.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2003 Nature Publishing Group
Institution: The University of Sheffield, The University of Leeds
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Science (Sheffield) > School of Biological Sciences (Sheffield) > Department of Animal and Plant Sciences (Sheffield)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Biological Sciences (Leeds) > Institute of Integrative and Comparative Biology (Leeds)
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 14 Mar 2006
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2014 13:49
Published Version: http://www.nature.com/nature/
Status: Published
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1038/nature02004
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/73

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