Evol Ecol Res 2: 997-1007 (2000)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Male alternative reproductive behaviours in a Mediterranean wrasse, Symphodus ocellatus: Evidence from otoliths for multiple life-history pathways

Suzanne H. Alonzo,1* Michael Taborsky2 and Peter Wirtz3

1Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA, 2Konrad Lorenz-Institut für Vergleichende Verhaltensforschung (KLIVV), Savoyenstrasse 1A, 1160 Vienna, Austria and 3Centro de Ciencias Biológicas e Geológicas, Universidade da Madeira, Largo do Colégio, 9000 Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

Address all correspondence to Suzanne H. Alonzo, Department of Environmental Studies, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA.
e-mail: shalonzo@cats.ucsc.edu


Although alternative reproductive behaviours have been studied extensively, it has only been possible in a few cases to document the underlying life-history pathways and factors that determine their expression. In Symphodus ocellatus, a Mediterranean wrasse, males adopt a variety of behaviours. Within a season, they may invest in territory defence, nest building and broodcare (nesting males); join nesting males in their defence against reproductive parasites, but also participate in spawning (satellites); parasitize nesting males’ spawns (sneakers); or refrain from reproduction (non-reproductives). To examine the life-history patterns of these alternatives, we observed individual males during a reproductive season and categorized their behaviour as sneakers, satellites, nesting males or non-reproductives. We then used their otoliths to estimate age and growth patterns. Males are sneakers, satellites or non-reproductives in their first reproductive season, while they behave as satellites or nesting males when 2 years old. Differences in early growth and behaviour suggest three alternative pathways: switching between reproductive seasons from being non-reproductive directly to nesting, changing from satellite to nesting behaviour between seasons, or from sneaking to adopting satellite behaviour. The adoption of a behaviour is apparently related to growth before reproduction in the first year of life. The existence of four age-dependent alternative behaviours within three separate life-history pathways indicates that we need to determine the life-history pathways that occur before we can infer the underlying mechanisms allowing the stable co-existence of alternative reproductive behaviours in a given species.

Keywords: alternative reproductive strategies, bourgeois and parasitic males, life-history pathways, ontogeny.

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