Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 56, Issue 1, pp 65–70 | Cite as

Sperm swimming speed and energetics vary with sperm competition risk in bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus)

  • Gary Burness
  • Stephen J. Casselman
  • Albrecht I. Schulte-Hostedde
  • Christopher D. Moyes
  • Robert Montgomerie
Original Article

Abstract

Under sperm competition, a male’s fertilization success depends largely on the ejaculate characteristics of competing males. Theoretical models predict that, in external fertilizers, increased risk of sperm competition should result in selection for increased sperm swimming speed. To test this prediction, we studied the behavior of sperm from parental and sneaker male bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), a fish species characterized by high levels of cuckoldry due to alternative reproductive tactics of males (parentals and cuckolders). Because cuckolders (sneakers and satellites) always spawn in the presence of a parental male, but the reverse is not true, cuckolders experience the greater risk of sperm competition. We show here that the spermatozoa of sneakers have faster initial swimming speeds but shorter periods of motility than the sperm of parental males. Moreover, we show that sperm swimming speeds shortly after activation (when most fertilization occurs) are correlated with starting ATP levels in spermatozoa, suggesting that sperm competition has selected for higher energetic capacity in the sperm of sneakers. Thus, the higher energetic capacity and initial swimming speed of sneaker sperm may explain why, despite having fewer sperm per ejaculate than parentals, sneakers fertilize more eggs than parental males when they compete to fertilize a clutch of eggs.

Keywords

Alternative mating tactic Motility Energetics ATP Sperm competition 

References

  1. Ball MA, Parker GA (1996) Sperm competition games: external fertilization and ‘adaptive’ infertility. J Theor Biol 180:141–150CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Casselman SJ, Montgomerie R (2004) Sperm traits in relation to male quality in colonial spawning bluegill Lepomis macrochirus. J Fish Biol (in press)Google Scholar
  3. Colgreave N, Ruxton GD (2003) Confidence intervals are a more useful complement to nonsignificant tests than are power calculations. Behav Ecol 14:446–450CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cosson J, Billard R, Cibert C, Dreanno C, Suquet M (1999) Ionic factors regulating the motility of fish sperm. In: Gagnon C (ed) The male gamete: from basic science to clinical applications. Cache River Press, Vienna, Ill., pp 161–186Google Scholar
  5. Fu P, Neff BD, Gross MR (2001) Tactic-specific success in sperm competition. Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 268:1105–1112CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Gage MJG, Stockley P, Parker GA (1995) Effects of alternative male mating strategies on characteristics of sperm production in the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar): theoretical and empirical investigations. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 350:391–399Google Scholar
  7. Gage MJG, MacFarlane C, Yeates S, Shackleton R, Parker GA (2002) Relationships between sperm morphometry and sperm motility in the Atlantic salmon. J Fish Biol 60:1528–1539CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gomendio M, Roldan ERS (1991) Sperm size and sperm competition in mammals. Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 243:181–185PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Gross M (1982) Sneakers, satellites and parentals: polymorphic mating strategies in North American sunfishes. Z Tierpsychol 60:1–26Google Scholar
  10. Jeulin C, Soufir J-C (1992) Reversible intracellular ATP changes in intact rat spermatozoa and effects on flagellar sperm movement. Cell Motil Cytoskeleton 21:210–222PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Jobling S, Coey S, Whitmore JG, Kime DE, Van Look KJW, McAllister BG, Beresford N, Henshaw AC, Brighty G, Tyler CR, Sumpter JP (2003) Wild intersex roach (Rutilus rutilus) have reduced fertility. Biol Reprod 67:515–524Google Scholar
  12. Katz DF, Drobnis EZ (1990) Analysis and interpretation of the forces generated by spermatozoa. In: Bavister BD, Cummins J, Roldan ERS (eds) Fertilization in mammals. Sereno Symposia, Nowell, Mass., pp 125–137Google Scholar
  13. Kime DE, Van Look KJW, McAllister BG, Huyskens G, Rurangwa W, Ollevier R (2001) Computer-assisted sperm analysis (CASA) as a tool for monitoring sperm quality in fish. Comp Biochem Physiol C 130:425–433CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lahnsteiner F, Berger B, Weismann T, Patzner RA (1998) Determination of semen quality of the rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss, by sperm motility, seminal plasma parameters, and spermatozoal metabolism. Aquaculture 163:163–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Leach B, Montgomerie R (2000) Sperm characteristic associated with different male reproductive tactics in bluegills (Lepomis macrochirus). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 49:31–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Levitan DR (2000) Sperm velocity and longevity trade off each other and influence fertilization in the sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus. Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 267:531–534CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Manly BJF (1997) Randomization tests and Monte Carlo methods in biology. Chapman and Hall, LondonGoogle Scholar
  18. Parker GA (1990) Sperm competition games: sneaks and extra-pair copulations. Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 242:127–133Google Scholar
  19. Rice W (1989) Analyzing tables of statistical tests. Evolution 43:223–225Google Scholar
  20. Stockley P, Gage M, Parker G, Møller AP (1997) Sperm competition in fishes: the evolution of testes size and ejaculate characteristics. Am Nat 149:933–954CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Uglem I, Galloway TF, Rosenqvist G, Folstad I (2001) Male dimorphism, sperm traits and immunology in the corkwing wrasse (Symphodus melops L.). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 50:511–518CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Vladic TV, Järvi T (2001) Sperm quality in the alternative reproductive tactics of Atlantic salmon: the importance of the loaded raffle mechanism. Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 268:2375–2381CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Vladic TV, Afzelius BA, Bronnikov GE (2002) Sperm quality as reflected through morphology in salmon alternative life histories. Biol Reprod 66:98–105PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary Burness
    • 1
    • 2
  • Stephen J. Casselman
    • 1
  • Albrecht I. Schulte-Hostedde
    • 1
    • 3
  • Christopher D. Moyes
    • 1
  • Robert Montgomerie
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  2. 2.Department of BiologyTrent UniversityPeterboroughCanada
  3. 3.Department of BiologyLaurentian UniversitySudburyCanada

Personalised recommendations