Lupold, S., S. Calhim, S. Immler, and T. R. Birkhead. 2009. Sperm morphology and sperm velocity in passerine birds. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 276:1175-1181.
Sperm velocity is one of the main determinants of the outcome of sperm competition. Since sperm vary considerably in their morphology between and within species, it seems likely that sperm morphology is associated with sperm velocity. Theory predicts that sperm velocity may be increased by enlarged midpiece (energetic component) or flagellum length (kinetic component), or by particular ratios between sperm components, such as between flagellum length and head size. However, such associations have rarely been found in empirical studies. In a comparative framework in passerine birds, we tested these theoretical predictions both across a wide range of species and within a single family, the New World blackbirds (Icteridae). In both study groups, sperm velocity was influenced by sperm morphology in the predicted direction. Consistent with theoretical models, these results show that selection on sperm morphology and velocity are likely to be concomitant evolutionary forces.Sign in to download PDF back to index