Sperm precedence in monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus)

Michelle J. Solensky, Karen S. Oberhauser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


We characterized sperm precedence in monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus), using a series of experiments in which we manipulated male mating histories to vary spermatophore size and the number of sperm transferred. Several factors affected the outcome of sperm competition. There was a pattern of second-male sperm precedence, but second-male precedence was rarely complete, and several other factors had significant effects on paternity patterns. Larger males outcompeted smaller males when they were not matched for size. Phosphoglucose isomerase (PGI) genotype affected the outcome of sperm competition under very hot conditions. When sperm from the same pair of males competed in different females, males fared better when they transferred more sperm. These results demonstrate that sperm precedence within a species can be affected by many factors, including the circumstances under which it is measured.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)328-334
Number of pages7
JournalBehavioral Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
National Science Foundation (IBN-0205766, DEB-9220820, and 9442165), a University of Minnesota Graduate School, and the Dayton and Wilkie Natural History Funds administered by the Bell Museum of Natural History at the University of Minnesota.


  • Monarch butterflies
  • PGI genotype
  • Sperm competition
  • Sperm transfer


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