Effects of courtship and relative mate size on sexual motivation in Atlantic salmon

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Abstract

Both sexes of Atlantic salmon Salmo salar were very sensitive to the absence of their mate on the spawning ground, particularly females during the last hour before oviposition. The improvement of behavioural chaining just before viposition might elicit the accurate timing of synchronized gamete release for successful fertilization. While the reproductive behaviour of the opposite sex could largely affect breeding activity, relative mate size appeared to be the prevailing sexual motivation factor in this species. Even in the absence of courtship, large mate size may constitute a supra-stimulus inducing an increase in spawning behaviour of the other sex. Females with smaller males delayed their first spawning activity, took longer to spawn and made more nests than those with large males. However, female egg retention was not influenced by relative male size.

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