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Overt and covert competition in a promiscuous mammal : the importance of weaponry and testes size to male reproductive success.

Preston, B. T. and Stevenson, I. R. and Pemberton, J. M. and Coltman, D. W. and Wilson, Kenneth (2003) Overt and covert competition in a promiscuous mammal : the importance of weaponry and testes size to male reproductive success. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 270 (1515). pp. 633-640. ISSN 0962-8452

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Abstract

Male contests for access to receptive females are thought to have selected for the larger male body size and conspicuous weaponry frequently observed in mammalian species. However, when females copulate with multiple males within an oestrus, male reproductive success is a function of both pre- and post-copulatory strategies. The relative importance of these overt and covert forms of sexual competition has rarely been assessed in wild populations. The Soay sheep mating system is characterized by male contests for mating opportunities and high female promiscuity. We find that greater horn length, body size and good condition each independently influence a male's ability to monopolize receptive females. For males with large horns at least, this behavioural success translates into greater siring success. Consistent with sperm-competition theory, we also find that larger testes are independently associated with both higher copulation rates and increased siring success. This advantage of larger testes emerges, and strengthens, as the number of oestrous females increases, as dominant males can no longer control access to them all. Our results thus provide direct quantitative evidence that male reproductive success in wild populations of mammals is dependent upon the relative magnitude of both overt contest competition and covert sperm competition.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Uncontrolled Keywords: Horn ; Copulation Frequency ; Operational Sex Ratio ; Sperm Competition ; Raffle Mechanism ; Sexual Selection
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Departments: Faculty of Science and Technology > Lancaster Environment Centre
ID Code: 8996
Deposited By: Dr Kenneth Wilson
Deposited On: 20 May 2008 16:01
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 31 Oct 2014 14:23
Identification Number:
URI: http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/8996

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