Pre- and post-copulatory sexual selection in the fowl, Gallus gallus
The evolutionary goal of individuals is reproduction and sexual selection favours traits improving reproductive success. When males invest less than females in offspring, males have potentially a higher reproductive rate than females. This typically results in sex-specific reproductive strategies of male-male competition and female choice of mating partner. Under polyandry, sexual selection can continue after copulation as sperm competition and cryptic female choice. This thesis focuses on male and female pre- and post-copulatory reproductive strategies in the promiscuous red junglefowl, Gallus gallus ssp., and its domestic subspecies the domestic fowl, Gallus gallus domesticus. Males impose high re-mating rates on females, which triggers female resistance in copulations. In addition, when sexual harassment increases, females re-mate at times of day when male mating propensity is lower, to avoid intense sexual harassment. Males allocate sperm supplies differentially according to (i) variation in female polyandry and own competitive ability, (ii) earlier sperm investment in a female, and (iii) female reproductive quality, signalled by female comb size. Males also perform ‘aspermic’ copulations (i.e. copulations with no semen transfer), which inhibit polyandry and in turn reduce sperm competition. In mating opportunities with relatives, males do not avoid inbreeding. However, females avoid inbreeding before copulation through kin recognition and after copulation by selecting against related males’ sperm. These results show that selection on males to re-mate at higher rates than females and copulate indiscriminately according to partner relatedness, trigger counteracting female responses, creating the potential for sexual conflict over fertilisation. Teasing apart pre- and post-copulatory strategies and the contribution of each sex therefore becomes crucial in order to understand the evolution of reproductive strategies and the mechanisms affecting paternity.
Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation
Keywords:NATURAL SCIENCES; Biology; Terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecology; Ethology and behavioural ecology; cryptic female choice; Gallus; inbreeding avoidance; mate choice; sexual conflict; sexual selection; sperm competition; etologi; Ethology
Date of Publication:01/01/2007