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Male age alone predicts paternity success under sperm competition when effects of age and past mating effort are experimentally separated

Citation

Aich, Upama (2021), Male age alone predicts paternity success under sperm competition when effects of age and past mating effort are experimentally separated, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.rbnzs7hbr

Abstract

Older males often perform poorly under post-copulatory sexual selection. It is unclear, however, whether reproductive senescence is due to male age itself or the accumulated costs of the higher lifetime mating effort that is usually associated with male age. To date, very few studies have accounted for mating history and sperm storage when testing the effect of male age on sperm traits, and none test how age and past mating history influence paternity success under sperm competition. Here, we experimentally manipulate male mating history to tease apart its effects from that of age on ejaculate traits and paternity in the mosquitofish, Gambusia holbrooki. We found that old, naive males had more sperm than old, experienced males, while the reverse was true for young males. In contrast, neither male age nor mating history affected sperm velocity. Finally, using artificial insemination to experimentally control the number of sperm per male, we found that old males sired significantly more offspring than young males independently of their mating history. Our results highlight that the general pattern of male reproductive senescence described in many taxa may often be affected by two naturally confounding factors, male mating history and sperm age, rather than male age itself.

Funding

Australian Research Council, Award: DP160100285

Australian Research Council, Award: DP190100279