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Multiple mating and its relationship to alternative modes of gestation in male-pregnant versus female-pregnant fish species.


We construct a verbal and graphical theory (the "fecundity-limitation hypothesis") about how constraints on the brooding space for embryos probably truncate individual fecundity in male-pregnant and female-pregnant species in ways that should differentially influence selection pressures for multiple mating by males or by females. We then review the empirical literature on genetically deduced rates of multiple mating by the embryo-brooding parent in various fish species with three alternative categories of pregnancy: internal gestation by males, internal gestation by females, and external gestation (in nests) by males. Multiple mating by the brooding gender was common in all three forms of pregnancy. However, rates of multiple mating as well as mate numbers for the pregnant parent averaged higher in species with external as compared with internal male pregnancy, and also for dams in female-pregnant species versus sires in male-pregnant species. These outcomes are all consistent with the theory that different types of pregnancy have predictable consequences for a parent's brood space, its effective fecundity, its opportunities and rewards for producing half-sib clutches, and thereby its exposure to selection pressures for seeking multiple mates. Overall, we try to fit these fecundity-limitation phenomena into a broader conceptual framework for mating-system evolution that also includes anisogamy, sexual-selection gradients, parental investment, and other selective factors that can influence the relative proclivities of males versus females to seek multiple sexual partners.

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