• ejaculate;
  • ornamentation;
  • sexual selection;
  • sperm competition;
  • teleost

The modern theories of sexual selection predict that male sexual ornaments may have evolved as reliable signals of male fertilization efficiency. However, among the studies of fishes with external fertilization, the results have yielded ambiguous evidence. In the present study, we present data on the phenotypic relationships between red spawning coloration and ejaculate quality (spermatocrit, sperm motility) from Arctic charr, Salvelinus alpinus. We studied two generations (F1 and F2) of males from a large lake population, reared in a standardized hatchery environment, to determine whether differential hatchery history, or duration of hatchery selection, affected the variation in ejaculate characteristics or abdominal coloration. After controlling for body length, there was no difference between the hatchery generations in these traits. However, the degree of redness increased with fish size. We found a positive correlation between sperm velocity and sperm longevity, indicating a functional integration between these sperm features across generations. Sperm velocity was also positively correlated with male redness. Therefore, the finding obtained in the present study suggests that the carotenoid-based ornamentation in Arctic charr may provide information about differences between males in their fertilization potential. © 2009 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2009, 98, 794–802.