Honors College Thesis


Sperm depletion and sperm competition in the red-sided garter snake, Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis Public Deposited

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  • Sperm competition is the post-copulatory analog of male-male combat, wherein sperm from more than one male coincide in a female’s reproductive tract and compete with one another for fertilization of a limited number of ova. Post-copulatory sexual selection, such as sperm competition, can be a powerful driving force for the evolution of many reproductive traits that can lead to rapid divergence. I investigated the effect of sperm depletion on sperm competition in a model polygynandrous mating system of the Redsided garter snake, Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis. The difference in P1 (the proportion of offspring sired by the first male to mate) between a male’s first and second matings was not statistically significant (P = 0.314). However, pooling the data to compare P1, P2, and PSS did show a statistically significant difference between PSS and P1 (P < 0.05), but not between P1 and P2 or P2 and PSS (P > 0.05). Female and male copulation durations, male masses, and interval between matings did not have any significant affect on the paternity of the offspring (All P > 0.05). Genetic bet hedging, sexual conflict, and sperm degradation/extrusions are all ideas that may help to explain our results.
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