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1 September 2009 Comparative Evidence for the Evolution of Sperm Swimming Speed by Sperm Competition and Female Sperm Storage Duration in Passerine Birds
Oddmund Kleven, Frode Fossøy, Terje Laskemoen, Raleigh J. Robertson, Geir Rudolfsen, Jan T. Lifjeld
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Abstract

Sperm swimming speed is an important determinant of male fertility and sperm competitiveness. Despite its fundamental biological importance, the underlying evolutionary processes affecting this male reproductive trait are poorly understood. Using a comparative approach in a phylogenetic framework, we tested the predictions that sperm swim faster with (1) increased risk of sperm competition, (2) shorter duration of female sperm storage, and (3) increased sperm length. We recorded sperm swimming speed in 42 North American and European free-living passerine bird species, representing 35 genera and 16 families. We found that sperm swimming speed was positively related to the frequency of extrapair paternity (a proxy for the risk of sperm competition) and negatively associated with clutch size (a proxy for the duration of female sperm storage). Sperm swimming speed was unrelated to sperm length, although sperm length also increased with the frequency of extrapair paternity. These results suggest that sperm swimming speed and sperm length are not closely associated traits and evolve independently in response to sperm competition in passerine birds. Our findings emphasize the significance of both sperm competition and female sperm storage duration as evolutionary forces driving sperm swimming speed.

© 2009 The Society for the Study of Evolution.
Oddmund Kleven, Frode Fossøy, Terje Laskemoen, Raleigh J. Robertson, Geir Rudolfsen, and Jan T. Lifjeld "Comparative Evidence for the Evolution of Sperm Swimming Speed by Sperm Competition and Female Sperm Storage Duration in Passerine Birds," Evolution 63(9), 2466-2473, (1 September 2009). https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1558-5646.2009.00725.x
Received: 27 January 2009; Accepted: 1 April 2009; Published: 1 September 2009
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