Sex–specific, counteracting responses to inbreeding in a bird

T. Pizzari , H. , C. K. Cornwallis

Abstract

Inbreeding often depresses offspring fitness. Because females invest more than males in a reproductive event, inbreeding is expected to be more costly to mothers than fathers, creating a divergence between the reproductive interests of each sex and promoting sex–specific inbreeding strategies. Males and females may bias the probability of inbreeding by selecting copulation partners, and, in sexually promiscuous species, through male strategic sperm investment in different females and female selection of the sperm of different males. However, these processes are often difficult to study, and the way that different male and female strategies interact to determine inbreeding remains poorly understood. Here we demonstrate sex–specific, counteracting responses to inbreeding in the promiscuous red junglefowl, Gallus gallus. First, a male was just as likely to copulate with his full–sib sister as with an unrelated female. In addition, males displayed a tendency to: (i) initiate copulation faster when exposed to an unrelated female than when exposed to a sister, and (ii) inseminate more sperm into sisters than into unrelated females. Second, females retained fewer sperm following insemination by brothers, thus reducing the risk of inbreeding and counteracting male inbreeding strategies.