Egg Trading in the Chalk Bass, Serranus tortugarum, a Simultaneous Hermaphrodite


Dept. of Psychology NI-25, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, U.S.A.

Abstract and Summary

The simultaneously hermaphroditic fish, Hypoplectrus nigricans, engages in a form of reciprocal spawning called “egg trading”, where one partner gives up eggs for fertilization in exchange for the opportunity to fertilize those of the partner. Since egg trading appears to be important in the evolutionary maintenance of hermaphroditism in H. nigricans, an attempt was made to determine if another species, Serranus tortugarum, behaved in a similar fashion. S. tortugarum do trade eggs, and the phenomenon seems to be widespread in simultaneously hermaphroditic serranids. However, the cues for spawning are much subtler than in H. nigricans and other simultaneously hermaphroditic serranids. This trait appears to be an evolutionary response to the occurrence of heavy sperm competition in the form of streaking.