When do the costs of spermatogenesis constrain sperm expenditure? Remarks on the pattern of the spermatogenic cycle


The costs of spermatogenesis constrain sperm expenditure when sperm production per day is limited. Thus, males are challenged to allocate available resources to sperm production and other life history functions. However, this prevailing assumption is not applicable to species in which spermatogenesis becomes quiescent during the breeding season. Males of these species prepare large quantities of sperm before the breeding season. Among these species, constraints on ejaculates have been intensively investigated in salamanders that deposit spermatophores. Although it is predicted that sperm expenditure should not be limited because of abundantly prepared sperm, spermatophore deposition is often limited during the breeding season when vas deferens are full of sperm. We tested a hypothesis regarding limited spermatophore deposition by measuring sperm quantity and volume of spermatophores sequentially deposited by male eastern newts Notophthalmus viridescens. A male newt rarely deposits more than three spermatophores per mating. If depletion of non-sperm components of spermatophores limits spermatophore deposition, we predicted that spermatophore volume decreases while sperm quantity remains constant as a male deposits more spermatophores. Alternatively, some regulative mechanisms allow a limited portion of available sperm to be expended per mating, in which sperm quantity is predicted to decrease while the spermatophore volume remains constant. Finally, depletion of non-sperm components may regulate sperm expenditure, which predicted that both spermatophore volume and sperm quantity decrease. We found that both sperm quantity and the spermatophore volume decreased as a male deposited more spermatophores during a single mating. Sperm expenditure was constrained without the costs involved in active spermatogenesis, and depletion of non-sperm components likely regulate sperm quantity loaded in spermatophores. In dissociated spermatogenesis, constrained sperm expenditure do not mean that costly spermatogenesis is directly limiting male mating capacity but rather suggest that the evolution of physiological mechanisms regulating sperm expenditure per mating maximizes male reproductive success. © 2009 Blackwell Verlag GmbH.

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