Sperm traits (morphology, motility and concentration within ejaculates) and various correlates of male quality (age, body condition, spawning location and timing) were studied in bluegill Lepomis macrochirus, breeding in both the interior and periphery of six colonies in Lake Opinicon, Ontario, Canada. Sperm traits varied significantly more among than within males suggesting that some aspect of male phenotype might influence sperm morphology and behaviour. No measures of male body condition or size were correlated with any sperm or ejaculate traits, when controlling statistically for confounding variables. Sperm swimming speed increased significantly with male age and varied significantly among spawning bouts (controlling for sperm tail length) suggesting that some unknown aspects of male quality might influence the fertilization capacity of spermatozoa. Sperm concentration in ejaculates was significantly higher in males nesting in the interior rather than the periphery of a colony suggesting that those males might also have higher fertilization capacity correlated with their superior dominance status or the lower risk of sperm competition. Thus, older males nesting in the interior of a colony during the first spawning bout of the season are expected to be the best sperm competitors in this population, but the physiological reasons for this increased fertilization capacity remain unknown.
Nesting males collected and monitored