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Patterns of sperm use in two populations of Red-sided Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis) with long-term female sperm storage

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Long-term sperm storage may contribute to postcopulatory sexual selection because it enhances the commingling of sperm from different males within the female reproductive tract, which is the prerequisite for sperm competition. Long-term sperm storage and multiple paternity has been documented in snakes, but the identity of the last potential father is usually unknown in studies demonstrating multiple paternity. Here we present the first study in Red-sided Garter Snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis (Say in James, 1832)) to use experimental population crosses to assess stored sperm usage, mate-order effects, and the potential for interpopulational gametic isolation. We found a high rate of multiple paternity indicative of ubiquitous long-term sperm storage in this system, and observed last-male sperm precedence in all families (n = 66). Postzygotic isolation was absent, and we observed only a weak asymmetry in pattern of sperm precedence in our population crosses.

Keywords: Red-sided Garter Snake; Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis; concurrence spermatique; couleuvre rayée à flancs rouges; mating system; parentage; parenté; postcopulatory sexual selection; sperm competition; sperm storage; squamate; squamates; stockage de sperme; système d’accouplement; sélection sexuelle post-copulatoire

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Zoology, Oregon State University, Cordley Hall 3029, Corvallis, OR 97330, USA. 2: Department of Biology, Portland State University, 1719 SW 10th Avenue, SRTC Room 246, Portland, OR 97201, USA.

Publication date: January 1, 2014

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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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