Background: A large number of studies in postcopulatory sexual selection use paternity success as a proxy for fertilization success. However, selective mortality during embryonic development can lead to skews in paternity in situations of polyandry and sperm competition. Thus, when assessment of paternity fails to incorporate mortality skews during early ontogeny, this may interfere with correct interpretation of results and subsequent evolutionary inference. In a previous series of in vitro sperm competition experiments with amphibians (Litoria peronii), we showed skewed paternity patterns towards males more genetically similar to the female.
Methodology/Principal Findings: Here we use in vitro fertilizations and sperm competition trials to test if this pattern of paternity of fully developed tadpoles reflects patterns of paternity at fertilization and if paternity skews changes during embryonic development. We show that there is no selective mortality through ontogeny and that patterns of paternity of hatched tadpoles reflects success of competing males in sperm competition at fertilization.
Conclusions/Significance: While this study shows that previous inferences of fertilization success from paternity data are valid for this species, rigorous testing of these assumptions is required to ensure that differential embryonic mortality does not confound estimations of true fertilization success.