Size-dependent reproductive success of wild zebrafish Danio rerio was studied under controlled conditions in the laboratory to further understand the influence of spawner body size on reproductive output and egg and larval traits. Three different spawner size categories attained by size-selective harvesting of the F1-offspring of wild D. rerio were established and their reproductive performance compared during a 5 day period. As to be expected, large females spawned more frequently and had significantly greater clutch sizes than small females. Contrary to expectations, small females produced larger eggs when measured as egg diameter with similar amounts of yolk compared to eggs spawned by large spawners. Eggs from small fish, however, suffered from higher egg mortality than the eggs of large individuals. Embryos from small-sized spawners also hatched later than offspring from eggs laid by large females. Larval standard length (LS)-at-hatch did not differ between the size categories, but the offspring of the large fish had significantly larger area-at-hatch and greater yolk-sac volume indicating better condition. Offspring growth rates were generally similar between offspring from all size categories, but they were significantly higher for offspring spawned by small females in terms of LS between days 60 and 90 post-fertilization. Despite temporarily higher growth rates among the small fish offspring, the smaller energy reserves at hatching translated into lower condition later in ontogeny. It appeared that the influence of spawner body size on egg and larval traits was relatively pronounced early in development and seemed to remain in terms of condition, but not in growth, after the onset of exogenous feeding. Further studies are needed to explore the mechanisms behind the differences in offspring quality between large- and small-sized spawners by disentangling size-dependent maternal and paternal effects on reproductive variables in D. rerio.
Department of Biology and Ecology of Fishes, Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Müggelseedamm 310, 12587 Berlin, Germany 2:
Department of Ecophysiology and Aquaculture, Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Müggelseedamm 310, 12587 Berlin, Germany