Does red junglefowl comb size predict sperm swimming speed and motility?

T. H. Parker*, D. Thompson, J. D. Ligon, B. Schneider, F. Byrn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Assurance of fertility is one of many selection pressures that have been hypothesized to drive female selectivity in mate choice. Male ornament expression could signal fertility and allow females to select mates to maximize the number of eggs fertilized. If so, expression of the male ornament(s) should correlate positively with some measure of fertilising efficiency. In male red junglefowl (Gallus gallus), comb size is the only male morphological trait repeatedly shown to predict female mate choice. Comb size in two different groups of yearling male junglefowl was compared with a composite variable assessing sperm speed and motility. This variable, derived through principal component analysis, captured variation in the percent of sperm motile, swimming speed of sperm, and directional swimming speed of sperm. In one group of males, sperm movement was greater in smaller combed males. In the other group, sperm movement was uncorrelated with comb size. Thus we found no evidence that females will gain fertility benefits through faster, straighter-swimming sperm when mating with large-combed males.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-60
Number of pages8
JournalEthology Ecology and Evolution
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Direct benefits
  • Gallus gallus
  • Mate choice
  • Phenotype-linked fertility
  • Sexual selection


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