Male reproductive traits of full-sibs of different age classes in three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus)

Abstract

The process of ageing is associated with negative effects of mutations acting late in life, which range from those affecting cells to those affecting the whole organism. In many animal taxa, the deterioration of the phenotype with age also affects traits such as males’ primary and secondary sexual characteristics. In three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus), males usually reproduce at one or two years of age. To see whether sexual selection has the potential to differ between young and old males, full-sib brothers of different age classes were compared, which were bred and raised under standardised laboratory conditions. During two simulated, successive breeding seasons males were allowed to build their nest in single tanks either in the first (“young males”) or in the second (“old males”) breeding season. A comparison of reproductively active brothers of the first and second breeding season showed that older males produce more but smaller sperm, which might be of lower quality. The fact that older males stored more sperm is size dependent as the results show that larger males possess a greater absolute testis mass, which is inextricably linked to sperm number. However, independent of body size, old males had a lower intensity of red/orange and UV breeding coloration as well as a reduced testis melanisation, which might have consequences in female mate choice and sperm competition.

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Mehlis2013MaleRT, title={Male reproductive traits of full-sibs of different age classes in three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus)}, author={Marion Mehlis and Theo C. M. Bakker}, year={2013} }