The genetic mating system of spotted sunfish (Lepomis punctatus): Mate numbers and the influence of male reproductive parasites

Department of Genetics, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.
Molecular Ecology (Impact Factor: 6.49). 01/2001; 9(12):2119-28. DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-294X.2000.01123.x
Source: PubMed


In nest-building fish species, mature males often exhibit one of two alternative reproductive behaviours. Bourgeois males build nests, court females, and guard their eggs. Parasitic cuckolders attempt to steal fertilizations from bourgeois males and do not invest in parental care. Previous evidence from the bluegill sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus) suggests that adult males are morphologically specialized for these two tactics. Here, we used microsatellite markers to determine genetic parentage in a natural population of the spotted sunfish (L. punctatus) that also displayed both bourgeois and parasitic male morphs. As gauged by relative investments in gonadal vs. somatic tissues, between 5 and 15% of the mature adult males were parasites. Multi-locus genotypes were generated for more than 1400 embryos in 30 nests, their nest-guardian males, and for other adults in the population. Progeny in approximately 57% of the nests were sired exclusively by the guardian male, but the remaining nests contained embryos resulting from cuckoldry as well. Overall, the frequency of offspring resulting from stolen fertilizations was only 1.3%, indicating that the great majority of paternity is by bourgeois nesting males. With regard to maternity, 87% of the nests had at least three dams, and computer simulations estimate that about 7.2 dams spawned per nest.

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Available from: Mark Mackiewicz, Aug 14, 2014
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    • "The importance of a balancing selection as a general mechanism maintaining alternative reproductive strategies among sunfishes remains unclear. Despite the data supporting this mechanism in the bluegill (Gross & Charnov 1980; Gross 1982, 1991; Neff 2001) and the pumpkinseed (this study), the absence of specialized sneakers in other sunfishes (DeWoody et al. 1998; MacKiewicz et al. 2002), and the low reproductive success of sneakers in still others (DeWoody et al. 2000a), suggest that multiple mechanisms may be at play. Furthermore, although our results lend some support to the balanced polymorphism hypothesis and strongly argue against the mixed strategy, a conditional strategy cannot be completely ruled out and could explain our results under two different scenarios. "
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    ABSTRACT: Intrasexual variation in reproductive behaviour and morphology are common in nature. Often, such variation appears to result from conditional strategies in which some individuals (e.g. younger males or those in poor condition) adopt a low pay-off phenotype as a 'best of a bad job'. Alternatively, reproductive polymorphisms can be maintained by balancing selection, with male phenotypes having equal fitnesses at equilibrium, but examples from nature are rare. Many species of sunfish (genus Lepomis) are thought to have alternative male reproductive behaviours, but most empirical work has focused on the bluegill sunfish and the mating systems of other sunfish remain poorly understood. We studied a population of pumpkinseed sunfish (Lepomis gibbosus) in upstate New York. Field observations confirm the existence of two male reproductive strategies: 'parentals' were relatively old and large males that maintained nests, and 'sneakers' were relatively young and small males that fertilize eggs by darting into nests of parentals during spawning. The sneaker and parental male strategies appear to be distinct life-history trajectories. Sneaker males represented 39% of the males observed spawning, and sneakers intruded on 43% of all mating attempts. Microsatellite analyses revealed that sneaker males fertilized an average of 15% of the eggs within a nest. This level of paternity by sneaker males appears to be higher than seen in most other fishes, and preliminary analyses suggest that the two male reproductive strategies are maintained as a balanced polymorphism.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2008 · Molecular Ecology
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    • "). Male bluegill sunfish (and, perhaps, spotted sunfish; DeWoody et al. 2000c) exhibit two distinctive morphological and reproductive phenotypes — bourgeois and satellite — that appear to be maintained by negative frequencydependent sexual selection (Gross 1991). By contrast, only the typical bourgeois morph has been reported in the redbreast sunfish. "
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    ABSTRACT: We employ microsatellite markers to assess mating tactics in Lepomis marginatus. Genetic assignments for 1015 progeny in 23 nests indicate that about 95% of the offspring were sired by their respective nest-guardians, a finding consistent with the apparent absence of a brood parasitic morphotype in this species. Allopaternal care was documented in two nests, one resulting from a nest takeover, the other from cuckoldry by an adjoining nest-tender. Clustered de novo mutations also were identified. About 2.5 females (range 1-7) contributed to the offspring pool within a typical nest. Results are compared to those for other Lepomis species.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2002 · Molecular Ecology
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    • "A growing number of genetic parentage studies in birds (e.g., Lifjeld and Slagsvold 1988; Houtman 1992) and other animals (Loughry et al. 1998; Madsen et al. 1992; DeWoody et al. 2000; Jones et al. 2000) have gone beyond the mere estimation of mate numbers to examine the consequences of multiple maternity and paternity with respect to mating system parameters, variations in genetic fitness as a function of alternative behaviors, or quantitative genetic issues. For example, Olsson et al. (1996) assigned paternity in sand lizards using DNA fingerprinting and showed that paternal genotype influenced various offspring traits; Kvarnemo et al. (2000) showed that male-pregnant seahorses who retained the same mate over multiple reproductive cycles had shorter inter-brood intervals and traveled less than males who switched mates, suggesting substantial benefits to monogamy; and King et al. (2001) used microsatellite parentage analyses to discriminate between maternal and genetic effects on scalation and behavior in multiply sired litters of garter snakes. "
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    ABSTRACT: When females receive no direct benefits from multiple matings, concurrent multiple paternity is often explained by indirect genetic benefits to offspring. To examine such possibilities, we analyzed genetic paternity for 1,272 hatchlings, representing 227 clutches, from a nesting population of painted turtles (Chrysemys picta) on the Mississippi River. Goals were to quantify the incidence and distribution of concurrent multiple paternity across clutches, examine temporal patterns of sperm storage by females, and deduce the extent to which indirect benefits result from polyandrous female behaviors. Blood samples from adult males also allowed us to genetically identify the sires of surveyed clutches and to assess phenotypic variation associated with male fitness. From the genetic data, female and male reproductive success were deduced and then interpreted together with field data to evaluate possible effects of female mating behaviors and sire identity on offspring fitness. We document that more than 30% of the clutches were likely fathered by multiple males, and that presence of multiple paternity was positively correlated with clutch size. Furthermore, the data indicate that the second male to mate typically had high paternity precedence over the first.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2001 · Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
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