Do pre- and post-copulatory sexually selected traits covary in large herbivores?

Mariona Ferrandiz-Rovira, Jean François Lemaître, Sophie Lardy, Bernat C. López, Aurélie Cohas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Background: In most species, males compete to gain both matings (via pre-copulatory competition) and fertilizations (via post-copulatory competition) to maximize their reproductive success. However, the quantity of resources devoted to sexual traits is finite, and so males are predicted to balance their investment between pre- and post-copulatory expenditure depending on the expected pay-offs that should vary according to mating tactics. In Artiodactyla species, males can invest in weapons such as horns or antlers to increase their mating gains or in testes mass/sperm dimensions to increase their fertilization efficiency. Moreover, it has been suggested that in these species, males with territory defence mating tactic might preferentially increase their investment in post-copulatory traits to increase their fertilization efficiency whereas males with female defence mating tactic might increase their investment in pre-copulatory sexually selected traits to prevent other males from copulating with females. In this study, we thus test the prediction that male's weapon length (pre-copulatory trait) covaries negatively with relative testes size and/or sperm dimensions (post-copulatory traits) across Artiodactyla using a phylogenetically controlled framework. Results: Surprisingly no association between weapon length and testes mass is found but a negative association between weapon length and sperm length is evidenced. In addition, neither pre- nor post-copulatory traits were found to be affected by male mating tactics. Conclusions: We propose several hypotheses that could explain why male ungulates may not balance their reproductive investment between pre- and post-copulatory traits. © 2014Ferrandiz-Rovira et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Article number79
JournalBMC Evolutionary Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2014


  • Post-copulatory competition
  • Pre-copulatory competition
  • Secondary sexual traits
  • Sexual selection
  • Sperm competition
  • Weapon length


Dive into the research topics of 'Do pre- and post-copulatory sexually selected traits covary in large herbivores?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this