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1 March 2011 Sperm Parameters Associated with Reproductive Ecology in Two Snake Species
Maximiliano Tourmente, Laura C Giojalas, Margarita Chiaraviglio
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The effect of temperature on sperm dynamic parameters in ectotherms in general, and reptiles in particular, remains poorly understood due to the lack of consistent evidence. As a group, snakes show considerable variability regarding mating systems, male reproductive behavior, thermoregulatory behavior, and preferred temperatures. Additionally, snakes present significant variability in sperm competition levels, which is determined by the species mating system. Because sperm longevity, motility, and velocity are positively related to reproductive success in both competitive and noncompetitive conditions, the sperm physiology of ectothermic organisms may functional optimally at ecologically relevant temperatures. The objective of this work was to analyze the effect of an ecologically plausible range of temperatures on sperm dynamic parameters of two species of snakes with contrasting mating systems and sperm competition levels: Boa constrictor occidentalis and Waglerophis merremii. To accomplish this, an in vitro incubation approach was used: sperm dynamic parameters (i.e., motility and velocity) were measured on sperm solution aliquots incubated at 25°C, 30°C, and 37°C for up to 10 h by means of a phase contrast video microscopy system. Results suggested that although an increase in temperature has a general negative impact on sperm motility and velocity, the two species studied present different degrees of sensitivity to high incubation temperatures. Moreover, these differences can be explained by the dissimilar thermal conditions that the sperm of the two species would experience during their reproductive seasons, which are a consequence of the differences in their reproductive behavior. In conclusion, sperm motility and swimming velocity respond mainly to environmental conditions imposed by mating systems rather than to selection by sperm competition.

The Herpetologists' League, Inc.
Maximiliano Tourmente, Laura C Giojalas, and Margarita Chiaraviglio "Sperm Parameters Associated with Reproductive Ecology in Two Snake Species," Herpetologica 67(1), 58-70, (1 March 2011).
Accepted: 1 November 2010; Published: 1 March 2011

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