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Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 53, Issue 4, pp 206–213 | Cite as

Assessment of sperm competition by European bitterling, Rhodeus sericeus

  • Carl Smith
  • Martin Reichard
  • Pavel Jurajda
Original Article

Abstract

We investigated male assessment of sperm competition in the bitterling, Rhodeus sericeus, a freshwater fish that spawns on the gills of living unionid mussels. Field experiments showed males increased their inspection rate of mussels into which a testis solution containing sperm had been experimentally released. Males avoided leading females to mussels that contained high numbers of embryos, but did not alter their leading behavior in response to the presence of sperm. In laboratory experiments males also increased their inspection rate of mussels into which a testis solution had been released and also failed to alter their leading behavior in response to the presence of sperm in mussels. However, males avoided leading females to mussels in close proximity to other males, and thereby may avoid sperm competition. In a second field study, territorial males were shown to ejaculate into mussels at a low rate in the absence of competitors, increase the frequency of ejaculations in competition with a rival, then decrease relative ejaculate expenditure as the number of competing males increased. Observed data were shown to be significantly correlated with predicted estimates of ejaculate expenditure for a model of sperm competition intensity. We discuss our results in the context of adaptive responses of males to sperm competition.

Keywords

Alternative mating tactics Acheilognathinae ESS model Sneaking Strategic ejaculation 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesQueen Mary University of LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Institute of Vertebrate BiologyAcademy of Sciences of the Czech Republic BrnoCzech Republic

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