Sperm Production and Variance in Sperm Quality

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Knudsen, Jill
sperm quality , variance , fertility , abnormal spermatozoa
An unusually high level of inter- and intraspecific variability in spermatozoa has been well documented. However, recent evidence indicates that the level of variation within spermatozoa differs markedly across taxa. In particular, it appears that the variability in spermatozoa tends to decrease across species as the risk of sperm competition increases. In this thesis, I present a model that explains how variability in spermatozoa may arise due to errors made during the sperm production process. In doing so, I also provide an explanation for why variability in sperm traits tends to decrease as the level of sperm competition experienced by males of a given species increases. The model presented in this study provides a novel perspective on spermatozoa and their production. While many sperm traits are thought to be selected upon, I suggest that variability in spermatozoa may also be the result of evolutionary forces such as sperm competition. Variability in spermatozoa, then, can be adaptive and can represent an optimal reproductive strategy.
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