Male Genital Morphology and Its Influence on Female Mating Preferences and Paternity Success in Guppies
by Clelia Gasparini, Andrea Pilastro, Jonathan P. Evans
In internally fertilizing species male genitalia often show a higher degree of elaboration than required for simply transferring sperm to females. Among the hypotheses proposed to explain such diversity, sexual selection has received the most empirical support, with studies revealing that genital morphology can be targeted by both pre-and postcopulatory sexual selection. Until now, most studies have focused on these two episodes of selection independently. Here, we take an alternative approach by considering both components simultaneously in the livebearing fish, Poecilia reticulata. We allowed females to mate successively (and cooperatively) with two males and determined whether male genital length influenced the female’s propensity to mate with a male (precopulatory selection, via female choice) and whether male genital size and shape predicted the relative paternity share of subsequent broods (postcopulatory selection, via sperm competition/cryptic female choice). We found no evidence that either episode of sexual selection targets male genital size or shape. These findings, in conjunction with our recent work exposing a role of genital morphology in mediating unsolicited (forced) matings in guppies, further supports our prior speculation that sexual conflict may be an important broker of genital evolution in this species.
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