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Reproductive biology of the rosylip sculpin, an intertidal spawner

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Rosylip sculpin Ascelichthys rhodorus spawned in the intertidal during the winter in the north‐eastern Pacific. Large numbers of males typically congregated at spawning sites, where females deposited clutches. The mating system of this species was external fertilization and group spawning at specific oviposition sites under boulders in the intertidal, and no alternative male mating strategies. Males were abundant at sites while oviposition was occurring, and most abandoned the sites as spawning tapered off seasonally despite the presence of developing clutches. Experimental removal of males from sites suggested that males provided some short‐term benefits to clutches, with catastrophic loss of clutches significantly lower when males were present. The large number of males at an oviposition site and histological evidence indicating high sperm production and storage of sperm prior to release suggest a high level of sperm competition in this species. This spawning pattern appears to differ in substantial ways from any other reported fish mating system.

Keywords: external fertilization; filial cannibalism; reproduction; sculpin; spawning; sperm competition

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: 1: College of the Atlantic, 105 Eden St., Bar Harbor, ME 04 609, U.S.A., 2: Friday Harbor Laboratories, University of Washington, 620 University Road, Friday Harbor, WA 98 250, U.S.A. and

Publication date: April 1, 2004


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