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Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Ecol. Evol. | doi: 10.3389/fevo.2016.00135

Status specific tailoring of sperm behavior in an external fertilizer

  • 1Faculty of Biosciences and Aquaculture, Nord University, Norway
  • 2Department of Arctic and Marine Biology, University of Tromsø, Norway

Why dominant males experiencing intense sperm competition sometimes show low investments in sperm production is not always obvious. One well-documented example is that of the external fertilizing teleost, the Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus), where individuals becoming dominant reduce sperm production and sperm swimming speed in water compared to subordinates. Here we report how ovarian fluid differentially influences sperm velocity of dominant and subordinate male Arctic charr. That is, sperm from dominant males increase their velocity in water diluted ovarian fluid compared to that observed in water, while sperm from subordinates, on the other hand, decrease velocity in ovarian fluid compared to that observed in water. Thus, subordinates, who invest more resources in their sperm and usually show the highest sperm velocity in water, have lower gains from their investment than dominant males when sperm are swimming in ovarian fluid. In sum, our result suggests that ovarian fluid increase sperm velocity more in dominant males than in subordinate males. Although this finding could partly be caused by cryptic female choice exerted by the ovarian fluid for sperm from dominant males, an alternative and more parsimonious explanation is that sperm from dominant males may simply be better designed for swimming in ovarian fluid compared to sperm from subordinate males. Thus, sperm production in the two reproductive roles seems to be adaptively tailored to different external environments.

Keywords: Sexual selection, Cryptic female choice, sperm competition, Sperm selection, Ovarian fluid

Citation: Egeland TB, Rudolfsen G, Nordeide JT and Folstad I (2016). Status specific tailoring of sperm behavior in an external fertilizer. Front. Ecol. Evol. 4:135. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2016.00135

Received: 25 Jul 2016; Accepted: 09 Nov 2016.

Edited by:

Michaela Hau, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Germany

Reviewed by:

Francisco Garcia-Gonzalez, Doñana Biological Station-Spanish Research Council CSIC, Spain
Jon P. Evans, University of Western Australia, Australia  

Copyright: © 2016 Egeland, Rudolfsen, Nordeide and Folstad. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mr. Torvald B. Egeland, Nord University, Faculty of Biosciences and Aquaculture, Bodø, Norway, torvald.b.egeland@nord.no