Sperm competition is an important force driving the evolution of sperm design and function. Inter- and intraspecific variation in sperm design are strongly influenced by the risk of sperm competition in many taxa. In contrast, the variation among sperm of one male (intramale variation) is less well understood. We investigated intramale variation in sperm design in passerine birds and found that risk of sperm competition is negatively associated with intramale variation. This result is the first clear evidence that variation among sperm within an individual male is influenced by postcopulatory sexual selection. Our finding has important implications for male traits under pre- and postcopulatory sexual selection.
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Vol. 62 • No. 6