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Tuni, Cristina; Mizerakis, Vangelis‐Loukas; Dingemanse, Niels J. (2019): Experimental evidence that winning or losing a fight does not affect sperm quality in a field cricket. In: Ethology, Vol. 125, No. 12: pp. 885-889
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Fighting is a powerful social experience that can affect male reproductive behavior, including ejaculatory strategies. Whereas winners may monopolize females, losers may instead perceive high sperm competition and limited future mating opportunities, and accordingly enhance ejaculate quality to maximize their reproductive success. In male field crickets Gryllus bimaculatus that fight aggressively for control of breeding territories, winners are known to possess sperm of lower quality (viability) compared to losers, but it remains unclear whether this is due to short‐term fighting consequences. To test if the fighting experience per se (winning or losing) affects male adjustment of sperm viability, we subjected males to winning and losing experiences by staging fights against size‐matched rivals of known fighting ability. These rivals were males that previously won or lost a fight and, due to “winner‐loser effects” kept winning or losing subsequent contests. We sampled sperm prior and after the fight and twice in control males with no fighting experience and found no differences in sperm viability across measures. We conclude that males do not tailor their ejaculate quality following a single fight, or based on its outcome. Intrinsic differences in other attributes between winners and loser phenotypes may explain differences in sperm quality previously described in this system.