Mating system and individual reproductive success of sympatric anadromous and resident brook charr, Salvelinus fontinalis, under natural conditions
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Salmonids are known for the occurrence in sympatry of two life-history forms, one that undergoes migration to sea before returning to freshwater to reproduce (anadromous) and one that inhabits freshwater without a migration phase (resident). Whereas one breeding population is often suggested by population genetic studies, mating patterns have rarely been directly assessed, especially when both sexes are found within each life-history form. By using highly polymorphic microsatellite loci and parentage analysis in a natural population of sympatric anadromous and resident brook charr (Salvelinus fontinalis), we found that gene flow occurred between the two forms and was mediated by resident males mating with both resident and anadromous females. Determinants of reproductive success, estimated by the number of surviving juveniles (ages 1 and 2 years), differed between the sexes. No strong evidence of the influence of size on individual reproductive success was found for males, whereas larger females (and hence most likely to be anadromous) were more successful. The higher individual reproductive success of anadromous fish compared to residents was mainly explained by this higher reproductive success of anadromous females. We suggest that resident males adopt a “sneaking” reproductive tactic as a way of increasing their reproductive success by mating with females of all sizes in all habitats. The persistence of the resident tactic among females may be linked to their advantage in accessing spatially constrained spawning areas in small tributary streams unavailable to larger females.