Factors influencing paternity success in Antechinus agilis: last-male sperm precedence, timing of mating and genetic compatibility

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We describe the patterns of paternity success from laboratory mating experiments conducted in Antechinus agilis, a small size dimorphic carnivorous marsupial (males are larger than females). A previous study found last-male sperm precedence in this species, but they were unable to sample complete litters, and did not take male size and relatedness into account. We tested whether last-male sperm precedence regardless of male size still holds for complete litters. We explored the relationship between male mating order, male size, timing of mating and relatedness on paternity success. Females were mated with two males of different size with either the large or the small male first, with 1 day rest between the matings. Matings continued for 6 h. In these controlled conditions male size did not have a strong effect on paternity success, but mating order did. Males mating second sired 69.5% of the offspring. Within first mated males, males that mated closer to ovulation sired more offspring. To a lesser degree, variation appeared also to be caused by differences in genetic compatibility of the female and the male, where high levels of allele-sharing resulted in lower paternity success.

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