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High degree of multiple paternity in the viviparous Shiner Perch, Cymatogaster aggregata, a fish with long-term female sperm storage.


The Shiner Perch (Cymatogaster aggregata Gibbons) exhibits a viviparous reproductive mode and long-term female sperm storage, two biological features that may predispose this fish species for both intense sperm competition and frequent multiple paternity within broods. To test these hypotheses, we used polymorphic microsatellite markers to identify sires and quantify paternal contributions to the progeny arrays of 27 pregnant females from a natural population of C. aggregata. The number of sires per brood ranged from one to eight (mean 4.6), typically with skewed distributions of fertilization success by the fathers but no correlation between sire number and brood size. The extraordinarily high incidences of multiple paternity in this species probably are due in part to high rates of mate encounter, but selection pressures related to the avoidance of maternal-fetal incompatibility may further have promoted the evolution of polyandrous mating behaviors in this female-pregnant species. Our genetic data are consistent with the hypothesis that viviparity, long-term sperm storage, and extreme polyandry are interrelated reproductive phenomena that should promote the evolution of post-copulatory sperm competition and/or cryptic female choice in these fishes.

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