Intraspecific variation in gamete compatibility among male/female pairs causes variation in the concentration of sperm required to achieve equivalent fertilization levels. Gamete compatibility is therefore potentially an important factor controlling mating success. Many broadcast-spawning marine invertebrates, however, also live in a dynamic environment where hydrodynamic conditions can affect the concentration of sperm reaching eggs during spawning. Thus flow conditions may moderate the effects of gamete compatibility on fertilization. Using the green sea urchin Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis as a model system, we assessed the relative effects of gamete compatibility (the concentration of sperm required to fertilize 50% of the eggs in specific male/female pairs; F50) and the root-mean-square of total velocity (urms; 0.01-0.11 m s(-1)) on fertilization in four locations near a spawning female (water column, wake eddy, substratum, and aboral surface) in both unidirectional and oscillatory flows. Percent fertilization decreased significantly with increasing urms at all locations and both flow regimes. However, although gamete compatibility varied by almost 1.5 orders of magnitude, it was not a significant predictor of fertilization for most combinations of position and flow. The notable exception was a significant effect of gamete compatibility on fertilization on the aboral surface under unidirectional flow. Our results suggest that selection on variation in gamete compatibility may be strongest in eggs fertilized on the aboral surface of sea urchins and that hydrodynamic conditions may add environmental noise to selection outcomes.
|Publication status||Published - 01 Aug 2014|