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Effect of spawning number and ration on reproductive performance of the batch-spawning three-spined stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus

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An experiment quantified the effect of food ration and spawning number on the breeding season reproductive performance of batch-spawning, female three-spined sticklebacks Gasterosteus aculeatus. Individually housed females were maintained on fixed rations of 2, 4, 8 or 16% of their initial postspawning mass of live enchytraeid worms from immediately after their first spawning until they ceased spawning. Number of spawnings correlated positively with ration. Total breeding season reproductive investment (total wet mass of eggs produced as a percentage of initial postspawning female mass) ranged from 38% at the 2% ration to 147% at the 16% ration. At the lower rations, postspawning mass, batch fecundity and wet and dry masses of the batch declined over successive spawnings, with the rate of decline inversely related to ration. At the highest ration, there was no decline in batch fecundity and postspawning mass increased over successive spawnings. Mean reproductive investment per inter-spawning interval was higher at the highest ration, but at all rations declined over successive spawnings. Mean reproductive effort per inter-spawning interval (wet mass of eggs spawned as a percentage of the wet mass of food consumed over the inter-spawning interval) was inversely related to ration. At the higher rations, reproductive effort showed no trend over successive spawnings. Neither spawning number nor ration had a systematic effect on egg diameter, wet mass per egg, dry mass per egg or total lipid content of the eggs. If the rate of food intake was insufficient, although batch fecundity declined, the main adjustment was a reduction in the number of spawnings in the breeding season.

Keywords: batch fecundity; egg diameter; egg lipid; egg mass; reproductive effort; reproductive investment

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences, Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth, SY23 3DA, Wales, U.K.

Publication date: 2009-08-01

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