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Reproductive and Mating Success in the Small-Mouthed Salamander (Ambystoma texanum) Estimated via Microsatellite Parentage Analysis

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Abstract

Bateman’s principles of sexual selection predict that the sex with “cheaper” gametes may maximize reproductive efforts by mating multiply and so display greater positive covariance between reproductive and mating success. We conducted a semi-controlled breeding experiment to genetically quantify sexual selection in adult Ambystoma texanum, a sexually monomorphic salamander with simple courtship behaviors. We used four polymorphic microsatellite loci to genotype 57 adults enclosed in a breeding wetland and compared their multilocus profiles to that of 862 embryos collected from the enclosure. The molecular data were used to assign parentage, investigate the mating system, and measure sexual selection intensity. Parentage analyses indicated 36% of dams and 93% of sires were genetically sampled via their gametes but physically unsampled, suggesting that a large number of breeders over-wintered within the enclosure and/or some females released into the enclosure were already inseminated. We used the genetic data to generate estimates of individual reproductive and mating success and we interpret these in light of salamander behavior and sexual selection theory. The incidence of multiple mating in females (86%) was considerably higher than in males (32%) and the standardized variance in mating success was significantly greater in females. The correlations between reproductive and mating success were significant and of similar magnitude between the sexes, indicating that both sexes increased reproductive success through increased mating success. This pattern may be a function of differential opportunities for mating success between the sexes.

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Acknowledgments

We thank J. Barany for permission to conduct research at the South River Road field site and S. Baker, L. Sheets, and S. Hecht for help in collecting salamanders. This manuscript was greatly improved by suggestions from R. Howard, A. Jones, and members of the DeWoody laboratory. Thanks are extended to C. Herbinger for providing advice and access to computational resources required for various PEDIGREE analyses. This is Agricultural Research Programs contribution number 2007–18087 from Purdue University, supported by NSF award DEB-0514815 to J.A.D.

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Correspondence to David Gopurenko.

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Appendix

Appendix

  Matrix of inferred parental crosses and number of embryos designated to each cross (parent—offspring array)

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Gopurenko, D., Williams, R.N. & DeWoody, J.A. Reproductive and Mating Success in the Small-Mouthed Salamander (Ambystoma texanum) Estimated via Microsatellite Parentage Analysis. Evol Biol 34, 130–139 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11692-007-9009-0

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