Postcopulatory sexual selection may select for male primary sexual characteristics like sperm morphology and sperm motility, through sperm competition or cryptic female choice. However, how such characteristics influence male fertilization success remains poorly understood. In this study, we investigate possible correlations between sperm characteristics and paternity success in the socially monogamous bluethroat (Luscinia svecica svecica), predicting that sperm length and sperm swimming speed is positively correlated with paternity success. In total, 25% (15/61) of broods contained extra-pair offspring and 10% (33/315) of the offspring were sired by extra-pair males. Paternity success did not correlate significantly with sperm morphology or any aspects of sperm motility. Furthermore, sperm morphology and sperm motility did not correlate significantly with male morphological characters that previously have been shown to be associated with paternity success. Thus, the sperm characteristics investigated here do not appear to be strong predictors of paternity success in bluethroats.
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