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Keywords:

  • cryptic female choice;
  • polyandry;
  • promiscuity;
  • sexual selection;
  • sperm competition

Abstract

Guppies (Poecilia reticulata) are models for understanding the interplay between natural and sexual selection. In particular, predation has been implicated as a major force affecting female sexual preferences, male mating tactics and the level of sperm competition. When predation is high, females typically reduce their preferences for showy males and engage more in antipredator behaviours, whereas males exploit these changes by switching from sexual displays to forced matings. These patterns are thought to account for the relatively high levels of multiple paternity in high-predation populations compared to low-predation populations. Here, we assess the possible evolutionary consequences of these patterns by asking whether variation in sperm traits reflect differences in predation intensity among four pairs of Trinidadian populations: four that experience relatively low levels of predation from a gape-limited predator and four that experience relatively high levels of predation from a variety of piscivores. We found that males in high-predation populations had faster swimming sperm with longer midpieces compared to males in low-predation populations. However, we found no differences among males in high- and low-predation populations with respect to sperm number, sperm head length, flagellum length and total sperm length.