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MOLECULAR GENETIC DISSECTION OF SPAWNING, PARENTAGE, AND REPRODUCTIVE TACTICS IN A POPULATION OF REDBREAST SUNFISH, LEPOMIS AURITUS.

  • Author(s): DeWoody, J Andrew
  • Fletcher, Dean E
  • Wilkins, S David
  • Nelson, William S
  • Avise, John C
  • et al.
Abstract

Despite a great diversity of reproductive behaviors in fishes, few studies have examined the genetic consequences of alternative reproductive tactics. Here we develop and employ microsatellite markers to assess genetic paternity and maternity of progeny cohorts in a population of redbreast sunfish (Lepomis auritus), a species in which males build and tend nests. Nearly 1000 progeny from 25 nests, plus nest-attendant males and nearby adults, were genotyped at microsatellite loci that displayed more than 18 alleles each. The genetic data demonstrate that multiple females (at least two to six) spawned in each nest, their offspring were spatially dispersed across a nest, and more than 90% of the young were sired by the attendant male. However, about 40% of the nests also showed genetic evidence of low-level reproductive parasitism, and two nests were tended by males that had fathered none of the sampled offspring. Genetically deduced reproductive behaviors in this population of redbreast sunfish contrast with those reported previously in bluegill sunfish (L. macrochirus) wherein heteromorphic males specialized for parasitism or for parental care coexist in high frequency. Thus, nest-parasitic reproductive behaviors in fishes appear to be evolutionary labile.

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