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Spawning substrata are important for breeding habitat selection but do not determine premating reproductive isolation in three sympatric Hexagrammos species

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Habitat use and spawning substrata were surveyed to characterize the contribution of habitat divergence to reproductive isolation in greenling Hexagrammos species. The spawning substrata and microhabitat in breeding territories differed amongst the three Hexagrammos species studied: H. octogrammus, H. agrammus and H. otakii used small red algae, surfgrass and bryozoans, respectively, as spawning substrata, and breeding territories were established in areas where those substrata were abundant. In contrast, non-territorial individuals were observed in a comparatively wider range of habitats than conspecific territories. Consequently, the distributions of non-territorial individuals of the three species partially overlapped. Since hybrids have been frequently collected, the difference in spawning substrata and the subsequent microhabitat divergence in breeding territories do not prevent females from encountering males of other species. Thus, in addition to habitat divergence, other factors such as behavioural differentiation may be needed to complete premating reproductive isolation amongst these three Hexagrammos species.
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Keywords: breeding territory; covering type; habitat selection; hybridization; premating isolation; spawning substratum

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Usujiri Fisheries Station, Field Science Center for Northern Biosphere, Hokkaido University, 152 Usujiri, Hakodate, Hokkaido 041-1613, Japan

Publication date: 01 January 2011

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