Sperm competition and the evolution of precopulatory weapons: increasing male density promotes sperm competition and reduces selection on arm strength in a chorusing frog

Bruno A. Buzatto*, J. Dale Roberts, Leigh W. Simmons

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Sperm competition theory assumes a trade-off between precopulatory traits that increase mating success and postcopulatory traits that increase fertilization success. Predictions for how sperm competition might affect male expenditure on these traits depend on the number of competing males, the advantage gained from expenditure on weapons, and the level of sperm competition. However, empirical tests of sperm competition theory rarely examine precopulatory male expenditure. We investigated how variation in male density affects precopulatory sexual selection on male weaponry and the level of sperm competition in the chorusing frog Crinia georgiana, where males use their arms as weapons in male-male combat. We measured body size and arm girth of 439 males, and recorded their mating success in the field. We found density-dependent selection acting on arm girth. Arm girth was positively associated with mating success, but only at low population densities. Increased male density was associated with higher risk and intensity of sperm competition arising from multimale amplexus, and a reversal in the direction of selection on arm girth. Opposing patterns of pre- and postcopulatory selection may account for the negative covariation between arm girth and testes across populations of this species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2613-2624
Number of pages12
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Anura
  • contest competition
  • multiple amplexus
  • polyandry
  • precopulatory sexual selection
  • Polyandry
  • Contest competition
  • Precopulatory sexual selection
  • Multiple amplexus

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