Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2006

Capstone Advisor

Professor Scott Pitnick

Honors Reader

Professor J.A.C. Uy

Capstone Major


Capstone College

Arts and Science

Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories

Sciences and Engineering

Subject Categories



Contrary to early predictions of sperm competition theory, postcopulatory sexual selection favoring increased investment per sperm (e.g., sperm size, sperm quality) has been demonstrated in numerous organisms. Recent findings reveal that sperm production strategies are highly variable, with males of some species producing relatively few, giant sperm. We empirically demonstrate for Drosophila melanogaster that both sperm quality and sperm quantity independently contribute to competitive male fertilization success. The interaction between sperm quality and quantity suggests an internal positive reinforcement on selection for sperm quality, with selection predicted to intensify as investment per sperm increases and the number of sperm competing declines. The mechanism underlying the sperm quality advantage is elucidated through examination of the relationship between female sperm-storage organ morphology and the differential organization of different length sperm within the organ. Our results exemplify that primary sex cells can bear secondary sexual straits.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Included in

Biology Commons



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