Faculty of Science

Postgraduate student research profiles

Postgraduate research at UWA's Science Facilities is prolific.

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Renee Firman

Thesis

The evolutionary implications of polyandry in house mice (Mus domesticus)

Summary

Despite the costs associated with mating, females of many taxa solicit multiple mates during a single reproductive event (polyandry). Polyandry is clearly adaptive when females gain direct benefits from males at mating. However, polyandry has also been shown to increase female fitness in the absence of direct benefits. Thus, a number of genetic benefit hypotheses have been developed to account for the origin of this behaviour.

Why my research is important

Polyandrous behaviour is enigmatic. My project will help determine what benefits (if any) females gain from mating with multiple males. Also, I will test theories as to why polyandrous behaviour has evolved. Empirical studies testing sperm competition theory are limited and previous work has concentrated on insect species. Correlational studies have shown that sperm competition may be a significant selective force influencing the evolution of mammalian testis size and sperm biology. This study is the first to experimentally test sperm competition theory in a mammalian species and will set the groundwork for further experimental work within this field.

Funding

  • The University of Western Australia - School of Animal Biology
  • Australian Research Council
  • Australian Geographic Society