Biases in sperm use in the mallard: no evidence for selection by females based on sperm genotype

E J A Cunningham, K M Cheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

If we are to understand fully the factors influencing fertilization success, it is essential to untangle male and female effects on sperm use. In many species, differences in fertilizing ability have been found between males or male genotypes, but the impact of female effects is less clear and may vary between taxa. Here, we examine sperm use in the mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), a species of bird in which forced copulation forms a major component of the mating system, to investigate whether there is any evidence for post-insemination female choice or rejection of particular sperm genotypes. Current models of sperm use in birds suggest observed patterns of paternity are a result of passive sperm loss from the reproductive tract and the relative timing of inseminations. Although this type of model successfully predicted average values of last male precedence observed in this species, there was considerable variation between females in their pattern of sperm use, with a tendency for females to use sperm of a single genotype. However, females did not consistently prefer one genotype over another in repeated inseminations with identical sperm mixtures, suggesting that post-insemination female preference based on sperm genotype did not account for this variation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)905-910
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences
Issue number1422
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 1999


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