Sperm economy between female mating frequency and male ejaculate allocation

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Abstract

Why females of many species mate multiply is a major question in evolutionary biology. Furthermore, if females accept matings more than once, ejaculates from different males compete for fertilization (sperm competition), which confronts males with the decision of how to allocate their reproductive resources to each mating event. Although most existing models have examined either female mating frequency or male ejaculate allocation while assuming fixed levels of the opposite sex’s strategies, these strategies are likely to coevolve. To investigate how the interaction of the two sexes’ strategies is influenced by the level of sperm limitation in the population, we developed models in which females adjust their number of allowable matings and males allocate their ejaculate in each mating. Our model predicts that females mate only once or less than once at an even sex ratio or in an extremely female-biased condition, because of female resistance and sperm limitation in the population, respectively. However, in a moderately female-biased condition, males favor partitioning their reproductive budgets across many females, whereas females favor multiple matings to obtain sufficient sperm, which contradicts the predictions of most existing models. We discuss our model’s predictions and relationships with the existing models and demonstrate applications for empirical findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)406-416
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Volume185
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jan 1

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Keywords

  • Evolutionarily stable strategies
  • Game theory model
  • Individual-based model
  • Operational sex ratio
  • Polyandry
  • Sperm competition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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