Alternative reproductive tactics and inverse size-assortment in a high-density fish spawning aggregation.

Authors:
Amod Zambre
Amod Zambre
Tata Institute of Fundamental Research
India
Kavita Isvaran
Kavita Isvaran
University of Cambridge
United Kingdom
Rohan Arthur
Rohan Arthur
Oceans and Coasts Program
Cape Town | South Africa

BMC Ecol 2017 Feb 28;17(1):10. Epub 2017 Feb 28.

Oceans and Coasts Program, Nature Conservation Foundation, 3076/5, 4th Cross, Gokulam Park, Mysore, Karnataka, 570002, India.

Background: At high densities, terrestrial and marine species often employ alternate reproductive tactics (ARTs) to maximize reproductive benefits. We describe ARTs in a high-density and unfished spawning aggregation of the squaretail grouper (Plectropomus areolatus) in Lakshadweep, India.

Results: As previously reported for this species, territorial males engage in pair-courtship, which is associated with a pair-spawning tactic. Here, we document a previously unreported school-courtship tactic; where territorial males court multiple females in mid-water schools, which appears to culminate in a unique 'school-spawning' tactic. Courtship tactics were conditional on body size, local mate density and habitat, likely associated with changing trade-offs between potential mating opportunities and intra-sexual competition. Counter-intuitively, the aggregation showed a habitat-specific inverse size-assortment: large males courted small females on the reef slope while small males courted equal-sized or larger females on the shelf. These patterns remained stable across two years of observation at high, unfished densities.

Conclusions: These unique density-dependent behaviours may disappear from this aggregation as overall densities decline due to increasing commercial fishing pressure, with potentially large consequences for demographics and fitness.

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Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12898-017-0120-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5331645PMC

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February 2017
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