Phenotypic variation between dimorphic males in corkwing wrasse

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Abstract

The age-frequency distributions for sneaker males (individuals with female secondary sexual characters) and territorial males (individuals with typical male sexual characters) of corkwing wrasse Symphodus melops in a Swedish population did not differ. Otolith analysis revealed that sneaker males were smaller than their territorial male counterparts as juveniles, but there was no evidence of a clear-cut threshold to determine the subsequent reproductive patterns. Thus, the expression of male morph in corkwing wrasse most likely is related to early growth pattern and the different morphs could be fixed for life. Adult sneaker males in general were smaller than territorial males of the same age. The relative gonad size and the abdomen in sneaker males were substantially enlarged compared with territorial males, but there was no difference in gonad water content between the two types of males. Sneaker males weighed less in relation to their length than territorial males. These results support theoretical sperm competition models which predict that the male morph with reduced attractiveness to females (i.e. sneakers) should invest more into spermatogenesis in order to achieve fertilization than the attractive male morph (i.e. territorial males).

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