, Volume 66, Issue 2, pp 201-208
Date: 06 Oct 2011

Allocation in reproduction is not tailored to the probable number of matings in common toad (Bufo bufo) males

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The theory of life history evolution assumes trade-offs between competing fitness traits such as reproduction, somatic growth, and maintenance. One prediction of this theory is that if large individuals have a higher reproductive success, small/young individuals should invest less in reproduction and allocate more resources in growth than large/old individuals. We tested this prediction using the common toad (Bufo bufo), a species where mating success of males is positively related to their body size. We measured testes mass, soma mass, and sperm stock size in males of varying sizes that were either (1) re-hibernated at the start of the breeding season, (2) kept without females throughout the breeding season, or (3) repeatedly provided with gravid females. In the latter group, we also estimated fertilization success and readiness to re-mate. Contrary to our predictions, the relationship between testes mass and soma mass was isometric, sperm stock size relative to testes mass was unrelated to male size, fertilization success was not higher in matings with larger males, and smaller males were not less likely to engage in repeated matings than larger males. These results consistently suggest that smaller males did not invest less in reproduction to be able to allocate more in growth than larger males. Causes for this unexpected result may include relatively low year-to-year survival, unpredictable between-year variation in the strength of sexual selection and low return rates of lowered reproductive investment.

Communicated by T. Bakker