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Sperm competition can be a powerful selective force in the evolution of mating systems. Several odonate species have attracted study to assess the extent and mechanism of last-male sperm precedence. Members of the genus Ischnura (Zygoptera) display a particularly interesting range of mating systems, and Ischnura elegans was selected for study. Polymorphic microsatellites were cloned, sequenced and used to determine paternity of I. elegans larvae, to reveal patterns of sperm precedence. More than 3000 larvae, collected from both wild and captively bred I. elegans females, were typed for one or two microsatellite loci and paternity was determined by comparison with parental genotypes. Microsatellite typing showed that most wild-caught females had mated with several males. Analysis of offspring from females which mated in captivity showed that multiple-matings result in a large proportion of last-male sperm precedence (mean value for immediate last male precedence is 0.79 +/- 0.2 (+/- s.d.; n = 11, range = 0.44-1)). There is appreciable variation in the extent and patterns of immediate and longer-term precedence, which could reflect differences in male sperm removal ability or selective use of sperm by females.

Original publication




Journal article


Proc Biol Sci

Publication Date





1343 - 1349


Animals, Female, Insecta, Male, Microsatellite Repeats, Polymorphism, Genetic, Sperm Capacitation, Spermatozoa