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Seasonal change in the spatial utilization of host mussels in relation to ovipositor length by female rosy bitterling Rhodeus ocellatus kurumeus


  • J. Kitamura

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Zoology, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, Kitashirakawa-Oiwakecho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8502, Japan
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*Tel.: +81 75 753 4077; fax: +81 75 753 4100; email:


The seasonal changes in ovipositor length and utilization patterns of mussels for oviposition in the rosy bitterling Rhodeus ocellatus kurumeus(Cyprinidae) were investigated in a field experiment and field surveys during the breeding period (April to August). The mean length of ovipositors at oviposition was short at the start (early April) and end (July) of the breeding period. Females with long ovipositor at oviposition were collected between mid-April and June. Mark-and-recapture data showed that ovipositor length at oviposition changed rhythmically throughout the breeding period, shortening and lengthening as the female entered the spawning and resting phase. The density of rosy bitterling embryos in mussels increased between April and June, peaking in May, but decreasing in July. The position of eggs on mussel gills varied from close to the exhalant siphon to deeper inside the gill during April, and periodically thereafter. There was a positive correlation between ovipositor length at oviposition and the distance from exhalant siphon of mussels to eggs deposited by females, suggesting that ovipositor length at oviposition determined the position of eggs deposited on a mussel gill. Because dissolved oxygen in mussel gills decreased with the density of bitterling embryos, suitable positions for embryo survival in gills changed with embryo density. By changing ovipositor length at oviposition, females might be able to spawn their eggs in a position that maximizes embryo survival. Thus, plasticity in ovipositor length at oviposition may play an important role as an adaptation of rosy bitterling in utilizing mussels when their quality as a spawning substratum fluctuates seasonally.

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