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Co-Adaptation of Physical Attributes of the Mammalian Female Reproductive Tract and Sperm to Facilitate Fertilization

Longer Sperm Swim More Slowly in the Canary Islands Chiffchaff

Sex and Evolution Research Group, Natural History Museum, University of Oslo, 0318 Oslo, Norway
Macaronesian Institute of Field Ornithology, 38001 Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Tomer Avidor-Reiss, Eduardo R. S. Roldán, Heidi S. Fisher and Melissah Rowe
Received: 16 April 2021 / Revised: 25 May 2021 / Accepted: 29 May 2021 / Published: 31 May 2021
Sperm swimming performance affects male fertilization success, particularly in species with high sperm competition. Understanding how sperm morphology impacts swimming performance is therefore important. Sperm swimming speed is hypothesized to increase with total sperm length, relative flagellum length (with the flagellum generating forward thrust), and relative midpiece length (as the midpiece contains the mitochondria). We tested these hypotheses and tested for divergence in sperm traits in five island populations of Canary Islands chiffchaff (Phylloscopus canariensis). We confirmed incipient mitochondrial DNA differentiation between Gran Canaria and the other islands. Sperm swimming speed correlated negatively with total sperm length, did not correlate with relative flagellum length, and correlated negatively with relative midpiece length (for Gran Canaria only). The proportion of motile cells increased with relative flagellum length on Gran Canaria only. Sperm morphology was similar across islands. We thus add to a growing number of studies on passerine birds that do not support sperm morphology–swimming speed hypotheses. We suggest that the swimming mechanics of passerine sperm are sufficiently different from mammalian sperm that predictions from mammalian hydrodynamic models should no longer be applied for this taxon. While both sperm morphology and sperm swimming speed are likely under selection in passerines, the relationship between them requires further elucidation. View Full-Text
Keywords: sperm morphology; sperm velocity; sperm motility; Macaronesia; chiffchaff species complex sperm morphology; sperm velocity; sperm motility; Macaronesia; chiffchaff species complex
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MDPI and ACS Style

Cramer, E.R.A.; Garcia-del-Rey, E.; Johannessen, L.E.; Laskemoen, T.; Marthinsen, G.; Johnsen, A.; Lifjeld, J.T. Longer Sperm Swim More Slowly in the Canary Islands Chiffchaff. Cells 2021, 10, 1358.

AMA Style

Cramer ERA, Garcia-del-Rey E, Johannessen LE, Laskemoen T, Marthinsen G, Johnsen A, Lifjeld JT. Longer Sperm Swim More Slowly in the Canary Islands Chiffchaff. Cells. 2021; 10(6):1358.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Cramer, Emily R.A., Eduardo Garcia-del-Rey, Lars E. Johannessen, Terje Laskemoen, Gunnhild Marthinsen, Arild Johnsen, and Jan T. Lifjeld 2021. "Longer Sperm Swim More Slowly in the Canary Islands Chiffchaff" Cells 10, no. 6: 1358.

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