The waterfowl family Anatidae is one of very few avian taxa that possesses an intromittent organ. This paper examines the adaptive significance of the intromittent organ in waterfowl by determining the relationships between intromittent organ morphology and the intensity of sperm competition (as reflected by frequency of forced extrapair copulations [FEPCs]). Intromittent organ morphological characteristics, including length and circumference (adjusted for body size), number of ridges and knobs (per unit area), ridge or knob height, ridge or knob span, and area covered by ridges and knobs, were measured from scaled drawings of museum specimens of 54 waterfowl species (33 genera), 27 of which were ranked by frequency of FEPC (1 = monogamous, 2 = rare FEPC, 3 = frequent FEPC, and 4 = polygynous or promiscuous). Testes sizes were also investigated in relation to FEPCs, where testes mass (adjusted for body size) from 44 species (24 genera) were obtained (29 species with mating strategies). The size of the testes, the length of the intromittent organ, the height of the intromittent organ ridges and knobs, and the area covered by ridges and knobs increased significantly with the frequency of FEPC, and those relationships exist after correcting for common ancestry constraints. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that waterfowl intromittent organs are involved in sperm competition. Further research into the actual mechanism by which the intromittent organ is involved would be worthwhile.
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Vol. 119 • No. 2