Size-related factors causing individual variation in seasonal reproductive success of fluvial male Dolly Varden (Salvelinus malma)


Research Institute of North Pacific Fisheries, Hokkaido University, Hakodate 041, Japan


Abstract– Reproductive activities of individually identified fluvial Dolly Varden (Salvelinus malma) were observed during a breeding season in a small stream. Males and females both established dominance hierarchies based on body size. Females spawned from late October to late November, with no apparent peak, and larger females spawned earlier than small ones. Males competed for access to females by adopting two types of mating tactics: pairing and sneaking. The tactic used depended on the male's position in the dominance hierarchy of the breeding group. Seasonal reproductive activity and mating success of males were positively correlated with body size, with only the largest male monopolizing most of the mating opportunities, and the small males were rarely successful in mating. Smaller males, however, lost as much weight as large males during the breeding season. Females preferred the largest male in the breeding group as a mate, while males courted females of any size. It is suggested that the polygynous mating pattern is a consequence of size-related differences in competitive ability among males, and the degree of monopolization is affected by both the temporal distribution and the spawning tactics of the females.