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Temporal variation in cuckoldry and paternity in two sunfish species (Lepomis spp.) with alternative reproductive tactics

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Abstract:

Male alternative reproductive tactics have been described in many mating systems. In fishes, these tactics typically involve a territorial male that defends a spawning site or nest and a parasitic male that uses sneaking or female mimicry to steal fertilizations from the territorial male. In this paper, we use molecular genetic markers to examine the success of males that adopt alternative reproductive tactics in two sunfishes, comprising the bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus Rafinesque, 1819) and the pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus (L., 1758)). In sunfishes, the tactics are referred to as parental (territorial male) and cuckolder (parasitic male). We show that cuckoldry rates peak in the second trimester of the breeding season in bluegill, whereas cuckoldry rates are lowest during this period in pumpkinseed. We also show that paternity of parental male bluegill is positively correlated with body condition, but not body length or mass. No relationship between these phenotypic variables and paternity in pumpkinseed was found. We discuss the patterns of cuckoldry in relation to differences between the species in mating opportunities, parental male defence ability, and cuckolder density. Finally, we discuss how the paternity data can be used to differentiate between two mechanisms underlying the expression of alternative reproductive tactics, comprising the condition strategy and alternative strategies.

La description de plusieurs systèmes d’accouplement comporte des tactiques reproductives de rechange chez les mâles. Chez les poissons, ces tactiques mettent typiquement en scène un mâle territorial qui défend un site de fraie ou un nid et un mâle parasite qui se faufile ou qui mime une femelle pour soutirer des fertilisations au mâle territorial. Dans notre étude, nous utilisons des marqueurs génétiques moléculaires pour évaluer le succès de mâles qui utilisent chacune de ces tactiques reproductives de rechange chez deux crapets, soit le crapet arlequin (Lepomis macrochirus Rafinesque, 1819) et le crapet soleil (Lepomis gibbosus (L., 1758)). Chez les crapets, ces tactiques sont désignées comme parentale (mâle territorial) ou trompeuse (mâle parasite). Nous montrons que les taux de tromperie atteignent leur apogée dans le second trimestre de la saison de reproduction chez le crapet arlequin, alors qu’ils sont minimaux durant cette période chez le crapet soleil. Il existe aussi chez les crapets arlequins une corrélation positive entre la paternité d’un mâle parental et sa condition corporelle, mais non avec la longueur ou la masse de son corps. On n’observe aucune relation entre les variables phénotypiques et la paternité chez le crapet soleil. Nous discutons des patrons de tromperie en fonction des différences entre les espèces en ce a trait aux occasions d’accouplement, à la capacité de défense des mâles parentaux et à la densité des mâles trompeurs. Nous examinons enfin comment les données de paternité peuvent servir à différencier entre deux mécanismes qui sous-tendent l’expression des tactiques reproductives de rechange, soit la stratégie reliée à la condition et les stratégies de rechange.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 2, 2008

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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