Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 56, Issue 1, pp 34–41

Male-male interference competition decreases spawning rate in the European bitterling (Rhodeus sericeus)

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00265-004-0760-2

Cite this article as:
Reichard, M., Jurajda, P. & Smith, C. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (2004) 56: 34. doi:10.1007/s00265-004-0760-2


We investigated the consequences of male-male interference competition associated with alternative male mating tactics in a freshwater fish, the European bitterling (Rhodeus sericeus). Male bitterling defend territories around living mussels and attract females to lay their eggs in the gill cavities of mussels. We experimentally manipulated spawning-site abundance and male density at two spatial scales. We showed that the total number of eggs spawned by females was constrained by the number of mussels available for oviposition. The effect was mediated by behavioral interactions among competing males because of variation in the Operational Sex Ratio (OSR) in close proximity to a mussel and not by a direct limitation in mussel capacity to accommodate the eggs. Both total and local male densities affected spawning behavior, and interacted in their effect on female spawning rate. Territorial male aggression caused courtship interruptions that prolonged the time until successful spawning and increased with male density. However, territoriality broke down at the highest male density, with a consequent stabilizing effect on spawning rate.


Alternative mating tacticsDensity dependenceOperational sex ratioSperm competitionReproduction

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biological Sciences, Queen MaryUniversity of LondonLondon UK
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterUK
  3. 3.Institute of Vertebrate BiologyAcademy of Sciences of the Czech RepublicBrnoCzech Republic
  4. 4.Institute of Vertebrate BiologyAcademy of Sciences of the Czech RepublicBrnoCzech Republic