Guard-sneaker tactics are widespread among fish, where territorial males defend a nest and provide parental care while sneakers try to steal fertilizations. Territorials and sneakers adopt diverse pre- and post-mating strategies, adjusting their ejaculate investment and/or behavioural responses to the presence of competitors. The relative distance of competitors from the spawning female plays a major role in influencing male mating strategies and the resulting paternity share. However, territorial male quality and sneaking intensity do not fully account for the variability in the relative siring success occurring among species. An often neglected factor potentially affecting sneakers proximity to females is the nest structure. We conducted a field experiment using the black goby, whose nests show two openings of different size. We found that territorial males defend more and sneaking pressure is higher at the front, larger access of the nest than at the back, smaller one. Moreover, microsatellite paternity analysis shows that territorials sire more offspring at the back of their nest. Such a predictable spatial distribution of the paternity share suggests that nest structure might work as an indirect cue of male relative siring success, potentially influencing the territorial male investment in parental care and/or the female egg deposition strategy.

Spatial asymmetry of the paternity success in nests of a fish with alternative reproductive tactics

Marino I. A. M.;Santon M.;Pellizzato G.;Zane L.;Rasotto M. B.
2021

Abstract

Guard-sneaker tactics are widespread among fish, where territorial males defend a nest and provide parental care while sneakers try to steal fertilizations. Territorials and sneakers adopt diverse pre- and post-mating strategies, adjusting their ejaculate investment and/or behavioural responses to the presence of competitors. The relative distance of competitors from the spawning female plays a major role in influencing male mating strategies and the resulting paternity share. However, territorial male quality and sneaking intensity do not fully account for the variability in the relative siring success occurring among species. An often neglected factor potentially affecting sneakers proximity to females is the nest structure. We conducted a field experiment using the black goby, whose nests show two openings of different size. We found that territorial males defend more and sneaking pressure is higher at the front, larger access of the nest than at the back, smaller one. Moreover, microsatellite paternity analysis shows that territorials sire more offspring at the back of their nest. Such a predictable spatial distribution of the paternity share suggests that nest structure might work as an indirect cue of male relative siring success, potentially influencing the territorial male investment in parental care and/or the female egg deposition strategy.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11577/3383073
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