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Divergent reproductive life histories in Haida Gwaii stickleback (Gasterosteus spp.)

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To assess intraspecific variability in fecundity of threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus L., 1758) as a test of life-history trade-offs, we quantified egg traits, morphological characters, and habitat variables in 43 allopatric and morphologically diverse populations from Haida Gwaii off the west coast of Canada. Mean mature egg size and total egg count (12 eggs per female and 8 gravid females per locality) were both positively and significantly correlated with standard length (SL) of the fish (r = 0.58 and 0.84, respectively). Egg size was ∼10% larger in freshwater localities than in similar-sized stickleback in adjacent marine localities (P < 0.02). Multiple regression and Akaike’s information criterion (AIC) analyses of residual egg size against morphological and lake habitat variables yields a negative correlation with lake pH (partial r = –0.34, P < 0.05) and no association with lake size, aquatic spectra, gill raker number, defense armor, or predation regime. Relative to stickleback from continental regions, Haida Gwaii stickleback life histories appear to be K-shifted (large but few eggs) possibly because of cool temperatures, low aquatic productivity, low community diversity, predation regime, and occasional iteroparity.

Keywords: Queen Charlotte Islands; archipel; archipelago; body size; egg number; egg size; fecundity; fécondité; nombre d’œufs; taille du corps; threespine stickleback; épinoche à trois épines; îles de la Reine-Charlotte

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2013-01-01

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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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