Browsing by Author "Ala-Honkola, Outi"

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  • Ala-Honkola, Outi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    It has been only recently realized that sexual selection does not end at copulation but that post-copulatory processes are often important in determining the fitness of individuals. In this thesis, I experimentally studied both pre- and post-copulatory sexual selection in the least killifish, Heterandria formosa. I found that this species suffers from severe inbreeding depression in male reproductive behaviour, offspring viability and offspring maturation times. Neither sex showed pre-copulatory inbreeding avoidance but when females mated with their brothers, less sperm were retrieved from their reproductive system compared to the situation when females mated with unrelated males. Whether the difference in sperm numbers is due to female or male effect could not be resolved. Based on theory, females should be more eager to avoid inbreeding than males in this species, because females invest more in their offspring than males do. Inbreeding seems to be an important part of this species biology and the severe inbreeding depression has most likely selected for the evolution of the post-copulatory inbreeding avoidance mechanism that I found. In addition, I studied the effects of polyandry on female reproductive success. When females mated with more than one male, they were more likely to get pregnant. However, I also found a cost of polyandry. The offspring of females mated to four males took longer to reach sexual maturity compared to the offspring of monandrous females. This cost may be explained by parent-offspring conflict over maternal resource allocation. In another experiment, in which within-brood relatedness was manipulated, offspring sizes decreased over time when within-brood relatedness was low. This result is partly in accordance with the kinship theory of genomic imprinting. When relatedness decreases, offspring are expected to be less co-operative and demand fewer resources from their mother, which leads to impaired development. In the last chapter of my thesis, I show that H. formosa males do not prefer large females as in other Poeciliidae species. I suggest that males view smaller females as more profitable mates because those are more likely virgin. In conclusion, I found both pre- and post-copulatory sexual selection to be important factors in determining reproductive success in H. formosa.