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Small Subordinate Male Advantage in the Zebrafish


Penelope J. Watt, Department of Animal & Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK.


Dominance is an important determinant of reproductive success in many species, and size is usually an indicator of dominance status, with larger, dominant individuals physically and physiologically preventing smaller subordinates from mating. However, small size may be advantageous in some mating contexts because enhanced manoeuvrability enables males to get closer to females during mating. Here, we determined the paternity success and testes size of dominant and subordinate male zebrafish (Danio rerio), in pairs that controlled for social status. There was no statistical difference in both body size and testes size between dominant and subordinate males. Dominant males sired significantly more offspring than subordinates, but when subordinates were small, they had a greater share of the paternity than larger subordinates. Small male advantage may be one mechanism by which variation in body size is maintained in this species.

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