Research shows male guppies reproduce even after death
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).
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.”
Source : Phys.org