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Cuckoldry features of introduced pumpkinseed sunfish (Lepomis gibbosus) in contrasting environmental conditions in southern Europe

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Reproduction of pumpkinseed sunfish (Lepomis gibbosus (L., 1758)) in the species’ native range often involves cuckoldry, consisting of dominant nest-guarding (parental) males and the participation by small “sneaker” males. However, it remains unknown whether this behaviour occurs in populations of non-native pumpkinseed. Thus, the present study describes the phenotypic features of cuckoldry under contrasting environmental conditions (lentic versus lotic) in southern Europe. Parental and sneaker pumpkinseeds were captured in the summer of 2011 from the River Bullaque (central Spain) and from the Encinarejo Reservoir (southern Spain). No differences in total length were observed in sneaker males, although individuals of ages 1+ and 2+ were significantly predominant in the river and the reservoir, respectively. Parental males were larger and older in the reservoir than in the river. Gonadosomatic and hepatosomatic indices were significantly higher in sneaker than in parental males at both sites. Body condition was lower in sneaker males in the river. Both ingested biomass and the proportion of full stomachs were lower in parental males at both sites, being significant in all cases except ingested biomass in the river. Sneaker males achieved a higher gonadosomatic index than parental males. In contrast, parental males had higher body condition indices than sneakers. Results demonstrate the high ecological plasticity of pumpkinseed sunfish to display natural behaviours out of its native area.

Keywords: biologie de l’invasion; caractères du cycle biologique; comportement du poisson; fish behaviour; invasion biology; life-history traits; mâles furtifs; reproductive strategy; sneaker males; stratégie de reproduction

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/z2012-073

Affiliations: 1: Salmon and Freshwater Team, Cefas, Pakefield Road, Lowestoft, Suffolk NR33 OHT, UK. 2: Department of Zoology and Ecology, School of Sciences, University of Navarra, Irunlarrea 1, E-31008 Pamplona, Spain.

Publication date: August 23, 2012

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