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Complex interactions between sperm viability and female fertility

Cite this dataset

Tourmente, Maximiliano; Ruth, Archer; Hosken, David (2019). Complex interactions between sperm viability and female fertility [Dataset]. Dryad.


Sperm viability is a major male fitness component, with higher sperm viability associated with enhanced sperm competitiveness. While many studies have focussed on sperm viability from the male fitness standpoint, its impact on female fitness is less clear. Here we used a panel of 32 isogenic Drosophila simulans lines to test for genetic variation in sperm viability (percentage of viable cells). We then tested whether sperm viability affected female fitness by mating females to males from low or high sperm viability genotypes. We found significant variation in sperm viability among genotypes, and consistent with this, sperm viability was highly repeatable within genotypes. Additionally, females mated to high sperm viability males laid more eggs in the first seven hours after mating, and produced more offspring in total. However, the early increase in oviposition did not result in more offspring in the 8 hours following mating, suggesting that mating with high sperm-viability genotypes leads to egg wastage for females shortly after copulation. Although mating with high sperm-viability males resulted in higher female fitness in the long term, high quality ejaculates would result in a short-term female fitness penalty, or at least lower realised fitness, potentially generating sexual conflict over optimal sperm viability.