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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 354:257-265 (2008)  -  DOI:

Morphological and behavioural correlates of reproductive success in Atlantic cod Gadus morhua

Sherrylynn Rowe1,*, Jeffrey A. Hutchings2, Jon Egil Skjæraasen3, Louise Bezanson2

1Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, PO Box 1006, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia B2Y 4A2, Canada
2Department of Biology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4J1, Canada
3Department of Biology, University of Bergen, 5020 Bergen, Norway

ABSTRACT: We tested the hypothesis that reproductive success is randomly distributed within spawning aggregations of Atlantic cod Gadus morhua, a broadcast-spawning marine fish for which no parental care is provided. Based on microsatellite DNA-parentage assignment of 8913 offspring from 4 large (n = 52 to 93) experimental spawning aggregations, we quantified individual variation in male reproductive success and evaluated the degree to which this variation could be explained by aspects of morphology, condition, and spawning behaviour. Reproductive success was highly skewed, with more than 80% of the offspring within each group sired by 2 to 7 individuals. Body size and agonistic interactions initiated were positively associated with male reproductive success within each group. The lengths of fins prominent during courtship and mating were also correlated with reproductive success within one of the spawning groups for which data were available. Our observations are consistent with the hypotheses that some form of intrasexual competition or mate choice is a constituent of the mating system of this species and that the ratio of effective to census population size in broadcast-spawning marine fishes is very small.

KEY WORDS: Mating system · Fertilization success · Mating success · Reproductive skew · Broadcast spawning

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Cite this article as: Rowe S, Hutchings JA, Skjæraasen JE, Bezanson L (2008) Morphological and behavioural correlates of reproductive success in Atlantic cod Gadus morhua. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 354:257-265.

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