Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 29–35

Adaptive host choice and avoidance of superparasitism in the spawning decisions of bitterling (Rhodeus sericeus)


  • C. Smith
    • School of Biological Sciences, Queen Mary & Westfield College, University of London, London, E1 4NS, UK e-mail: Tel.: +44-207-8823056, Fax: +44-207-8820973
  • John D. Reynolds
    • School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, NR4 7TJ, UK
  • William J. Sutherland
    • School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, NR4 7TJ, UK
  • Pavel Jurajda
    • Institute of Vertebrate Biology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Kvétnˇa 8, 60365 Brno, Czech Republic
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s002650000212

Cite this article as:
Smith, C., Reynolds, J., Sutherland, W. et al. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (2000) 48: 29. doi:10.1007/s002650000212


Choice of a site for oviposition can have fitness consequences. We investigated the consequences of female oviposition decisions for offspring survival using the bitterling, Rhodeus sericeus, a freshwater fish that spawns inside living unionid mussels. A field survey of nine bitterling populations in the Czech Republic revealed a significantly lower rate of release of juvenile bitterling from Anodonta cygnea compared to three other mussel species. A field experiment demonstrated that female bitterling show highly significant preferences for spawning in A. anatina, Unio pictorum, and U. tumidus. Within a species, female bitterling avoided mussels containing high numbers of bitterling embryos. Mortality rates of bitterling embryos in mussels were strongly density dependent and the strength of density dependence varied significantly among mussel species. Female preferences for mussels matched survival rates of embryos within mussels and females distributed their eggs among mussels such that embryo mortalities conformed to the predictions of an ideal free distribution model. Thus, female oviposition choice is adaptive and minimizes individual embryo mortality.

Key words OvipositionDensity dependenceFreshwater musselIdeal free distribution model

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2000