Vast differences in available resources between habitats can have profound influences on aspects of an organism's life history, such as reproductive investment. Our study investigated how differences in nutrient availability affect sperm size in Diamond-backed Watersnakes (Nerodia rhombifer). We compared body size and sperm morphometrics between two populations with differing nutrient availability: a naturally occurring lake and a commercial fish farm. We hypothesized that prey availability affects sperm morphometrics. Our null hypothesis was that there would be no significant difference in sperm morphometrics between populations, whereas our alternative hypothesis was that the snakes from the fish farm would have significantly longer sperm. We measured total sperm length, sperm head length, sperm tail length, and snout–vent length (SVL). We then used two-tailed t-tests and AIC model selection to test our hypotheses. SVL was not correlated with sperm size. Furthermore, none of the sperm morphometrics were significantly different between the two populations. Finally, a nearly 1:1 correlation between sperm tail length and total sperm length was found. AIC model selection corroborated these results by choosing only sperm head length and sperm tail length as significant predictors of total sperm length. This is the first published study to explicitly compare sperm morphometrics between two populations of the same snake species. Additional studies of this nature are required to corroborate whether lack of significant differences in sperm morphometrics among snake populations are common.
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Vol. 108 • No. 2