Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Male guppies reproduce long after death

Date:
June 12, 2013
Source:
University of California - Riverside
Summary:
Performing experiments in a river in Trinidad, evolutionary biologists have found that male guppies -- small freshwater fish -- continue to reproduce for at least ten months after they die, living on as stored sperm in females, who have much longer lifespans than males. While it is well known that guppies store sperm, biologists had never before thought of the extent of the storage.

Guppies are small freshwater fish that have been the subject of long-term studies.
Credit: Pierson Hill

Performing experiments in a river in Trinidad, a team of evolutionary biologists has found that male guppies continue to reproduce for at least ten months after they die, living on as stored sperm in females, who have much longer lifespans (two years) than males (three-four months).

"Populations that are too small can go extinct because close relatives end up breeding with each other and offspring suffer from inbreeding," said David Reznick, a professor of biology at the University of California, Riverside and the principal investigator of the research project. "If there are stored sperm, then the real population size is bigger than the number of animals you see. Also, stored sperm can increase genetic variation in other ways."

Reznick explained that male guppies are brightly colored and very variable in coloration. Females prefer males with rare color patterns. A dead male with a long-lost color pattern can later give birth to a son who can now be preferred by females because he is different from all other males in the population. Because some females live so long, those sons can appear more than two generations after the father's death.

"Adult female guppies are the strongest swimmers and now we know they are the best able to colonize new habitats," Reznick said. "Long term sperm storage means that a single female can colonize a new site and establish a new population that has a fair measure of genetic diversity since we have found that the older, larger females can carry the sperm of several males. Plants do the same sort of thing differently. They produce seeds that can lay dormant in the soil for decades so each year new offspring can appear that represent many prior generations of parents. Water fleas also lay eggs that can lie dormant for long intervals of time. But this is the first time we see such a phenomenon in a vertebrate."

Study results appeared online June 5 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

While it is well known that guppies store sperm, Reznick and his team had never before thought of the extent of the storage.

"In addition to learning about sperm storage, this is the first time we are learning about the huge differences in lifespan between males and females," Reznick said. "If we were to use males to estimate generation time, then these differences mean that lucky females live for three generations. A human equivalent would be for us to have women around who were 90 years old and still very fertile."

The experiments Reznick and colleagues conducted in Trinidad are part of a large-scale, interdisciplinary research program that is characterizing the interaction between ecological and evolutionary processes.

"We are collecting these data for other reasons," Reznick said. "What we are learning is that such detailed data yield unexpected rewards. Very few studies have the kind of information that we are collecting -- long-term mark recapture with genetics -- so there is rarely the chance to make a discovery like this. What we are seeing seems rare because it has never before been reported, but it may only seem rare because almost no one has looked for it. It could be common and could play an important role in sustaining genetic diversity in natural populations."

Reznick was joined in the study by Andrιs Lσpez-Sepulcre, a former postdoctoral researcher in Reznick's lab and the first author of the research paper; Swanne P. Gordon, a former graduate student in Reznick's lab; and Ian G. Paterson and Paul Bentzen at Dalhousie University, Canada.

The research was funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, Agence Nationale de la Recherche, France, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Riverside. The original article was written by Iqbal Pittalwala. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. A. Lopez-Sepulcre, S. P. Gordon, I. G. Paterson, P. Bentzen, D. N. Reznick. Beyond lifetime reproductive success: the posthumous reproductive dynamics of male Trinidadian guppies. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2013; 280 (1763): 20131116 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2013.1116

Cite This Page:

University of California - Riverside. "Male guppies reproduce long after death." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130612133403.htm>.
University of California - Riverside. (2013, June 12). Male guppies reproduce long after death. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130612133403.htm
University of California - Riverside. "Male guppies reproduce long after death." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130612133403.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) — A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Washington Wildlife Center Goes Nuts Over Baby Squirrels

Washington Wildlife Center Goes Nuts Over Baby Squirrels

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 30, 2014) — An animal rescue in Washington state receives an influx of orphaned squirrels, keeping workers busy as they nurse them back to health. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease

Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) — In a new study, a promising experimental treatment for Ebola managed to cure a group of infected macaque monkeys. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) — State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins