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More sires may enhance offspring fitness in Northern Map Turtles (Graptemys geographica)

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Sexual selection theory predicts that males should be promiscuous to maximize their reproductive success, while females should be choosy. Yet females of many taxa often produce progeny sired by multiple males, indicating that promiscuity can be important for the reproductive success of females. Promiscuity may enhance the fitness of females if it increases the genetic quality, or the genetic variety, and thus the viability of their offspring. We quantified the number of sires per clutch in a population of Northern Map Turtles (Graptemys geographica (LeSueur, 1817)) in Lake Opinicon, Ontario, Canada, and tested whether the number of sires affects several metrics of viability in hatchlings. Based on the most conservative estimate, at least 71% of clutches in this population are sired by multiple males, but there was no evidence that larger clutches are sired by more males. Clutches sired by more males had higher hatching success and survival, but the differences were not statistically significant. We did not find any effect of the number of sires on hatchling morphology or locomotor performance. Collectively, our results partially support the hypothesis that promiscuity can increase the reproductive success of female Northern Map Turtles.

Keywords: Graptemys geographica; Northern Map Turtle; avantages génétiques; genetic benefits; multiple paternity; paternité multiple; polyandrie; polyandry; promiscuity; promiscuité; reptiles; tortue géographique

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, University of Ottawa, University of Ottawa, 30 Marie-Curie, Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5, Canada. 2: Department of Biology, Carleton University, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By, Ottawa, ON K1S 5B6, Canada. 3: Department of Biology, Queen’s University, 116 Barrie, Kingston, ON K7L 3N6, Canada.

Publication date: January 1, 2013

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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