Changes in sperm stores, ejaculate size, fertilization success, and sexual motivation over repeated matings in the common toad, Bufo bufo (Anura: Bufonidae)

Attila Hettyey, Balázs Vági, Gergely Hévizi, J. Török

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Fertilization is of central importance in the determination of reproductive success for both males and females. In species where males have the chance to mate repeatedly within a short period of time, sperm stocks may become depleted and males may have to carefully economize on their sperm reserves. Also, intensive intrasexual competition for females and repeated matings may lead to exhaustion on the behavioural level. To determine whether the reproductive potential of males is limited and if such a limitation is due to behavioural exhaustion or sperm depletion, we experimentally investigated changes in sperm stores, sperm expenditure, fertilization success, and sexual motivation over three repeated matings in the common toad, Bufo bufo, where the breeding season is short and sequential polygyny occurs. At the end of the breeding season, the number of sperm stored in the testes of males mated repeatedly was close to 50% lower than in testes of unmated males. Ejaculate size, which was estimated by applying a novel method allowing direct quantification, decreased by 88% from first to third matings. We also observed a drop in fertilization success from the first two to third matings by 65%, which was largest in males that had started the reproductive season in bad body condition. Some of these males also showed a decreased interest in females in the third mating round. Our results suggest that sperm depletion and loss of sexual motivation may together set a limit to the reproductive potential of common toad males. The present study draws attention to a limitation in reproductive potential, which may occur more often than currently anticipated and has the potential to strongly influence several aspects of reproductive behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-371
Number of pages11
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Volume96
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2009

Fingerprint

Bufonidae
Bufo
toad
toads
fertilization (reproduction)
Anura
sperm
spermatozoa
reproductive potential
breeding season
testes
polygyny
reproductive behavior
body condition
reproductive success
expenditure

Keywords

  • Ejaculate collection
  • Exhaustion
  • Natural history
  • Reproduction
  • Sexual conflict
  • Sperm depletion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Changes in sperm stores, ejaculate size, fertilization success, and sexual motivation over repeated matings in the common toad, Bufo bufo (Anura : Bufonidae). / Hettyey, Attila; Vági, Balázs; Hévizi, Gergely; Török, J.

In: Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, Vol. 96, No. 2, 02.2009, p. 361-371.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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