, Volume 80, Issue 3, pp 401–404

To produce many small or few large eggs: a size-independent reproductive tactic of fish

  • Carlos M. Duarte
  • Miguel Alcaraz
Original Papers

DOI: 10.1007/BF00379043

Cite this article as:
Duarte, C.M. & Alcaraz, M. Oecologia (1989) 80: 401. doi:10.1007/BF00379043


We demonstrate here the existence of a range of size-independent reproductive tactics in teleostean fish involving the allocation of a size-dependent reproductive effort between fecundity and egg size. Despite considerable evidence that larger eggs and the larvae hatching from them are more likely to survive than smaller ones, we found no evidence of evolutionary trends towards greater egg sizes. Fish with pelagic eggs tend to spawn many, and therefore small, eggs, whereas demersal spawners tend to produce large, and therefore few, eggs. Maximizing egg number should increase the number of eggs hatching in suitable locations in the patchy pelagic environment and, hence, increase the reproductive success of pelagic spawners. On the other hand, the reproductive success of demersal spawners, which reduce the variance in growing conditions experienced by the off spring, should be more dependent on the survival of the individual larvae, which increases as egg size increases.

Key words

Teleostean fish Fish eggs Reproductive tactics Pelagic-demersal eggs 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carlos M. Duarte
    • 1
  • Miguel Alcaraz
    • 1
  1. 1.Instituto de Ciencias del MarConsejo Superior de Investigaciones CientíficasBarcelonaSpain

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