The Zebra Finch Taeniopygia guttata is a model bird species for the experimental study of behavioural and evolutionary concepts in captivity and especially sexual selection. The validity of sexual selection studies of domesticated birds is of long-standing concern as little is known about the influence of domestication on sexually selected traits. Most domesticated Zebra Finch populations are maintained under a strict breeding regime to avoid potential inbreeding. However, these breeding regimes may interfere with the processes of sexual selection and influence the evolution of sexually selected traits because they may limit or prohibit active mate choice. Here, we investigated the potential impact of a monogamous breeding scheme in a domesticated population in which active mate choice is largely inhibited, on the evolution of sperm morphometry as a sexually selected trait. We compared sperm morphometric traits (total sperm length and length of sperm head, midpiece and flagellum), and the variance thereof, between a domesticated and two wild Zebra Finch populations. Although we found significant differences between the three populations for certain sperm traits (head length, midpiece length), which may be of importance in postcopulatory sexual selection, overall, variance in sperm morphometry did not differ between the domesticated and the wild Zebra Finch populations. Our results validate the use of domesticated Zebra Finches for further studies of postcopulatory sexual selection and sperm competition.
- post-copulatory sexual selection
- sperm design
- Taeniopygia guttata
- POSTCOPULATORY SEXUAL SELECTION
- INTRASPECIFIC VARIATION
- MAMMALIAN SPERM
- PASSERINE BIRDS