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Keywords:

  • bluegill;
  • condition;
  • fitness;
  • foraging;
  • growth rate;
  • pedigree;
  • predation;
  • survivorship

Abstract

Foraging behaviour under the risk of predation has important consequences on an individual's survivorship and fitness. In bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), we have recently shown that offspring sired by males of alternative life histories differ in their foraging behaviour. Specifically, offspring sired by ‘cuckolder’ males take fewer risks during foraging than do offspring sired by ‘parental’ males. This behavioural difference can have important consequences on the fitness of the two life histories and thus the underlying evolutionary mechanism. Here, we examine the consequences of this behavioural variation on growth rate, condition and survivorship during early development of juveniles. We used split in vitro fertilization to generate maternal half-sibs that differed in sire life history. The resulting 18 455 larvae from 50 families were released into a microcosm with safe and risky foraging areas for approximately 2 months. A total of 262 juveniles (1.4%) survived of which parentage was unambiguously determined using microsatellite genetic markers for 254 (97%). Although we found significant dam effects, there was no difference in apparent growth rate or condition of juveniles sired by males of the two life histories. Of the 25 paired half-sib families, 15 had higher survivorship when sired by a cuckolder male, seven had higher survivorship when sired by a parental male and three had no surviving offspring from either sire. Thus, although growth was similar between the two offspring types, survivorship was not. Combining the differential survivorship estimate with paternity data from natural nests and the frequency of males adopting each life history, we calculated that the cuckolder life history has 1.87 times higher fitness than the parental life history. As such, the life histories likely are not governed by a genetic polymorphism.