Article: article from journal or magazin.
Quality of seminal fluids varies with type of stimulus at ejaculation.
The theory of ejaculate economics was mainly built around different sperm competition scenarios but also predicts that investments into ejaculates depend on female fecundity. Previous tests of this prediction focused on invertebrates and lower vertebrate, and on species with high female reproductive potential. It remains unclear whether the prediction also holds for polygynous mammals with low female reproductive potential (due to low litter size and long inter-birth intervals). We used horses (Equus caballus) to experimentally test whether semen characteristics are adjusted to the oestrous cycle of the mare a stallion is exposed to during few moments before ejaculation. We analysed 122 weekly semen samples collected from 16 stallions during exposure to either an oestrous or a dioestrous mare. Semen volume and the rate of motile sperm were higher when stallions were exposed to an oestrous than to a diestrous mare, while total sperm counts and sperm velocity remained unchanged. Sperm collected after exposure to an oestrous mare also showed reduced oxidative degeneration of cell membranes over a period of 48 hours. We conclude that stallions invest more into their seminal fluids when the chance of fertilization is elevated, and that this adjustment of ejaculate quality can happen very quickly.
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