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Behavioural Aspects of Sperm Competition in Swallows (Hirundo Rustica)

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I studied sperm competition in a swallow Hirundo rustica population using copulations and copulation attempts as measures of male interests and successful copulations as measures of female interests. Copulation success was similar in the pre-fertile and the fertile period for both mates and non-mates. Daily patterns of copulation were also similar in the pre-fertile and the fertile period. Males could thus not tell from copulation success whether the female was in the fertile period. A higher proportion of ECPs occurred during female's fertile periods, than did pair copulations, but the actual number of pair copulations was greater. Non-mate males fathered a large fraction (ca 25 %) of offspring according to parent-offspring regressions of tarsus length. The daily pattern showed early pair copulations and later extra-pair copulations. Male swallows increased their copulation rate in response to chases of their female mates by neighbouring males. Male swallows allocated their ejaculates at an optimal time of the season (primarily non-mate males copulated within the fertile period) and the day, and male mates prevented cuckoldry threats by increasing copulation rates if their female mates were chased by neighbour males.

Affiliations: 1: (Institute of Zoology and Zoophysiology, Zoological Laboratory, University of Aarhus, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark


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