In many species, the negative fitness effects of inbreeding have facilitated the evolution of a wide range of inbreeding avoidance mechanisms. Although avoidance mechanisms operating prior to mating are well documented, evidence for postcopulatory mechanisms of inbreeding avoidance remain scarce. Here, we examine the potential for paternity biases to favour unrelated males when their sperm compete for fertilizations though postcopulatory inbreeding avoidance mechanisms in the guppy, Poecilia reticulata. To test this possibility, we used a series of artificial inseminations to deliver an equal number of sperm from a related (either full sibling or half sibling) and unrelated male to a female while statistically controlling for differences in sperm quality between rival ejaculates. In this way, we were able to focus exclusively on postcopulatory mechanisms of inbreeding avoidance and account for differences in sperm competitiveness between rival males. Under these carefully controlled conditions, we report a significant bias in paternity towards unrelated males, although this effect was only apparent when the related male was a full sibling. We also show that sperm competition generally favours males with highly viable sperm and thus that some variance in sperm competitiveness can be attributed to difference in sperm quality. Our findings for postcopulatory inbreeding avoidance are consistent with prior work on guppies, revealing that sperm competition success declines linearly with the level of relatedness, but also that such effects are only apparent at relatedness levels of full siblings or higher. These findings reveal that postcopulatory processes alone can facilitate inbreeding avoidance.
2014. Vol. 27, no 12