, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 169-177

Testes mass in megachiropteran bats varies in accordance with sperm competition theory

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Sperm competition is a widespread phenomenon influencing a range of characters, including investment in gonadal tissue. Conspecific proximity is one factor which can influence the risk of sperm competition and hence testicular investment, and decreased confidence of paternity may be one cost of group living. Aspects of female biology may also influence spermatogenic investment and sperm morphology. This study examines the associations between relative testes mass and roost-group size across 17 species of Megachiroptera. Associations between breeding season duration and investment in spermatogenesis are also examined, as are associations between female reproductive tract dimensions and testes mass and dimensions of spermatozoa across all bats. Relative testes mass was significantly positively associated with roost-group size at a species level and after appropriate phylogenetic control (pairwise comparisons and comparison of independent contrasts). There were no significant relationships between breeding season duration and relative testes mass. Across all bats, neither testes mass nor sperm length were significantly related to dimensions of the female tract. The results are discussed in the context of sperm competition.

Received: 7 January 1998 / Accepted after revision: 8 August 1998