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Data from: Female sperm storage mediates postcopulatory costs and benefits of ejaculate anticipatory plasticity in the guppy

Cite this dataset

Devigili, Alessandro; Cardozo, Gabriela; Antonelli, Pietro; Pilastro, Andrea (2020). Data from: Female sperm storage mediates postcopulatory costs and benefits of ejaculate anticipatory plasticity in the guppy [Dataset]. Dryad.


Males of many species evolved the capability of adjusting their ejaculate phenotype in response to social cues to match the expected mating conditions. When females store sperm for prolonged time, the expected fitness return of plastic adjustments of ejaculate phenotype may depend on the interval between mating and fertilization. While, prolonged female sperm storage (FSS) increases the opportunity for sperm competition, as a consequence of the longer temporal overlapping of ejaculates from several males, it may also create variable selective forces on ejaculate phenotype, for example by exposing trade-offs between sperm velocity and sperm survival. We evaluated the relationship between the plasticity of ejaculate quality and FSS in the guppy, Poecilia reticulata, a polyandrous livebearing fish in which females store sperm for several months and where stored sperm contribute significantly to a male’s lifelong reproductive success. In this species, males respond to the perception of future mating opportunities by increasing the quantity (number) and quality (swimming velocity) of ready-to-use sperm (an anticipatory response called ‘sperm priming’). Here we investigated 1) the effect of sperm priming on in-vitro sperm viability at stripping and its temporal decline (as estimate of sperm survival), and, 2) the in-vitro competitive fertilization success in relation to female sperm storage using artificial insemination. As expected, sperm-primed males produced more numerous and faster sperm, but with a reduced in-vitro sperm viability at stripping and after 4 hours, compared to their counterparts. Artificial insemination revealed that the small (non-significant) advantage of primed sperm when fertilization immediately follows insemination, is reversed when eggs are fertilized by female-stored sperm, weeks after insemination. By suggesting a plastic trade-off between sperm velocity and viability, these results demonstrate that prolonged female sperm storage generates divergent selection pressures on ejaculate phenotype.

Usage notes

Complete dataset

The dataset consists in a .xlsx file with 5 sheets where:

Fertilization success of males with different females, male morphology and colouration, number of sperm produced, sperm velocity and sperm viability are reported.