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Enforced monoandry and female investment into reproduction

Cite this dataset

Sorci, Gabriele et al. (2021). Enforced monoandry and female investment into reproduction [Dataset]. Dryad.


While uncovering the costs and benefits of polyandry has attracted considerable attention, assessing the net effect of sexual selection on population fitness requires the experimental manipulation of female mating over generations, which is usually only achievable in laboratory populations of arthropods. However, knowing if sexual selection improves or impairs the expression of life history traits is key for the management of captive populations of endangered species, which are mostly long-lived birds and mammals. It might therefore be questionable to extrapolate the results gathered on laboratory populations of insects to infer the net effect of sexual selection on populations of endangered species. Here, we used a longitudinal dataset that has been collected on a long-lived bird, the houbara bustard, kept in a conservation breeding program, to investigate the effect of enforced monoandry on female investment into reproduction. In captivity, female houbara bustards are artificially inseminated with sperm collected from a single male (enforced monoandry), or sequentially inseminated with semen of different males (polyandry), allowing post-copulatory sexual selection to operate. We identified female lines that were produced either by monoandrous or polyandrous inseminations over three generations, and we compared reproductive investment of females from the two mating system groups. We found that females in the polyandrous lines had higher investment into reproduction as they laid more eggs per season and produced heavier hatchlings. Higher reproductive investment into reproduction in the polyandrous lines did not result from inherited differences from females initially included in the two mating system groups. These results show that removal of sexual selection can alter reproductive investment after only few generations, potentially hindering population fitness and the success of conservation breeding programs.