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Male age, germline mutations and the benefits of polyandry




The number of de novo mutations in the germline can be expected to increase with age in males, therefore females might decrease mutation load in their progeny by avoiding mating with older males. Here, I propose that female polyandry can be more effective in decreasing the risk of genetic disorders in progeny than pre-copulatory mate choice, particularly if sperm competitiveness declines more steeply with age than other traits affecting chances of males to mate. If faster ageing of spermatogenic tissue causes older males to transfer inadequate numbers of functional sperm, polyandry would also benefit females directly.