Is male reproductive senescence minimised in Mus species with high levels of sperm competition?

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delBarco-Trillo, Javier
Tourmente, Maximiliano
Varea-Sánchez, María
Roldan, Eduardo R. S.
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Sperm competition, an evolutionary process in which the spermatozoa of two or more males compete for the fertilization of the same ovum, gives rise to several morphological and physiological adaptations. Generally, high levels of sperm competition enhance sperm function. In contrast, advanced age is known to lead to reproductive senescence, including a general decline in sperm function. Sperm competition and advanced age may thus have opposing effects on sperm function. Here, we tested the hypothesis that the increase in sperm function in species experiencing high levels of sperm competition will counteract the negative effects of advanced age. We measured a comprehensive set of reproductive traits in young and old males in three species of mice of the genus Mus, which differ greatly in their levels of sperm competition. Our prediction was that the expression of reproductive senescence would be highest in the species with low levels of sperm competition and lowest in the species with high levels of sperm competition. Surprisingly, we did not find a strong signal of reproductive senescence in any of the three Mus species. Overall, our results did not clearly support our hypothesis that high levels of sperm competition minimize the negative effects of ageing on sperm function.
Adenosine triphosphate , Age and reproduction , Reproductive senescence , Rodents , Sperm abnormalities , Sperm competition , Sperm function , Sperm morphology
Delbarco-Trillo, J., Tourmente, M., Varea-Sánchez, M. and Roldan, E. R. S. (2017) 'Is male reproductive senescence minimized in Mus species with high levels of sperm competition?', Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 123(2), pp. 463-470. doi: 10.1093/biolinnean/blx146
© 2017 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, following peer review. The version of record is available online at: