Reproductive success by large, closely related males facilitated by sperm storage in an aggregate breeding amphibian


Chris Chandler,†Present address: Iowa State University, Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology, 251 Bessey Hall, Ames, IA 50011, USA. Fax: 151 5294 1337; E-mail:


The outcome of sexual selection on males may depend on female mate choice and male–male competition as well as postcopulatory processes such as cryptic female choice and sperm competition. We studied the outcome of sexual selection in the spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum), specifically examining the role of body size and relatedness on male reproductive success. Using controlled mating experiments in the field, we gave females access to three males of different sizes. We used seven microsatellite loci to determine paternity in the resulting larvae, estimate relatedness (r) between females and their mates, and calculate md2 (a measure of within-individual genomic divergence), heterozygosity, and standardized heterozygosity in the larvae. Both body size and relatedness to the female were significant predictors of male reproductive success. The relatedness of the males available to a female did not influence the amount of stored sperm she used to sire her larvae. Nonetheless, computer simulations showed that the average md2, heterozygosity, and standardized heterozygosity of the offspring were lower than expected by random mating. These differences are due to the use of stored sperm to fertilize some eggs; md2, heterozygosity, and standardized heterozygosity of larvae sired by stored sperm were significantly lower than those of larvae sired by the experimental males. These results suggest that relatedness may further influence a male's long-term reproductive success by determining whether his sperm is stored for later breeding seasons. Sexual selection in this salamander likely involves a complex interaction among many factors and may act over many seasons.