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Male traits associated with alternative reproductive tactics in Gobius niger

Authors

  • M. B. Rasotto,

    Corresponding author
    1. Dipartimento di Biologia, Universita di Padova, via U. Bassi 58/B, 35131 Padova, Italy
      *Author to whom correspondence should be addressed. Tel.: +39 0498276191; Fax: +39 0498276199; email: rasotto@civ.bio.unipd.it
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  • C. Mazzoldi

    1. Dipartimento di Biologia, Universita di Padova, via U. Bassi 58/B, 35131 Padova, Italy
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*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed. Tel.: +39 0498276191; Fax: +39 0498276199; email: rasotto@civ.bio.unipd.it

Abstract

Male black goby Gobius niger, adopting parental or sneaking tactics, differed in secondary sex traits (elongation of the 4th ray of the first dorsal fin and black nuptial colouration) thus allowing the classification of wild-caught males. Parental males were larger and older than sneaker males, suggesting that the mating tactic is an expression of an ontogenetic gradient. Males adopting alternative tactics differed also in primary sex traits, including their testes and their two pairs of accessory structures: the seminal vesicles and mesorchial glands. Sneaker males had a higher investment in testes, while parental males showed larger seminal vesicles and more developed mesorchial glands. Histological analyses also showed that seminal vesicles from parental males presented some functional differences from those of sneakers. In the former these organs were devoted solely to mucin secretion, while in the latter they stored sperm and had a lower activity of secretion. Seminal vesicle features influenced ejaculate (sperm trail) characteristics and performance. Parental male trails were richer in mucins, but poorer in sperm than trails deposited by sneakers. As a consequence, while sneakers produced trails that released a large amount of immediately active sperm, trails laid by parental males released less sperm more constantly over a long time.

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