Sexual selection may favour the evolution of elaborated genital traits in males, particularly when phenotypic variation in such traits results in corresponding variation in reproductive success among males in the population. Compared with insects, very little is known about the natural variation in any male genital trait, and its causes, in vertebrates. Here we report on variation in a male intromittent organ both within and between natural populations of a vertebrate, the Trinidadian guppy (Poecilia reticulata), Male guppies inseminate females using an intromittent organ called the gonopodium. We demonstrate that males from populations that have evolved under high fish-predation intensity have, on average, a relatively longer gonopodium than males originating from populations under low fish-predation intensity. Compared with body coloration, the gonopodium exhibited relatively low phenotypic variation, but nonetheless was within the range of known variation for sexually selected traits. The male gonopodium was positively allometric in general. To our knowledge, this is the first report of within-species variation in an intromittent organ and of a positive allometric relationship between male genitalia and body size in a vertebrate species. Our results suggest that the length of the male intromittent organ in the guppy is under selection, which varies geographically.

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Journal Canadian Journal of Zoology
Citation
Kelly, C.D., Godin, J.-G.J, & Abdallah, G. (2000). Geographical variation in the male intromittent organ of the Trinidadian guppy (Poecilia reticulata). Canadian Journal of Zoology, 78(9), 1674–1680.