Article: article from journal or magazin.
'Good-genes' and 'compatible-genes' effects in an Alpine whitefish and the information content of breeding tubercles over the course of the spawning season.
Some models of sexual selection predict that individuals vary in their genetic quality and reveal some of this variation in their secondary sexual characteristics. Alpine whitefish (Coregonus sp.) develop breeding tubercles shortly before their spawning season. These tubercles are epidermal structures that are distributed regularly along the body sides of both males and females. There is still much unexplained variation in the size of breeding tubercles within both sexes and with much overlap between the sexes. It has been suggested that breeding tubercles function to maintain body contact between the mating partners during spawning, act as weapons for defence of spawning territories, or are sexual signals that reveal aspects of genetic quality. We took two samples of whitefish from their spawning place, one at the beginning and one around the peak of spawning season. We found that females have on average smaller breeding tubercles than males, and that tubercle size partly reveals the stage of gonad maturation. Two independent full-factorial breeding experiments revealed that embryo mortality was significantly influenced by male and female effects. This finding demonstrates that the males differed in their genetic quality (because offspring get nothing but genes from their fathers). Tubercle size was negatively linked to some aspects of embryo mortality in the first breeding experiment but not significantly so in the second. This lack of consistency adds to inconsistent results that were reported before and suggests that (i) some aspects of genetic quality are not revealed in breeding tubercles while others are, or (ii) individuals vary in their signaling strategies and the information content of breeding tubercles is not always reliable. Moreover, the fact that female whitefish have breeding tubercles of significant size while males seem to have few reasons to be choosy suggests that the tubercles might also serve some functions that are not linked to sexual signaling.
Animals, Breeding, Embryo, Nonmammalian/embryology, Female, Genetic Variation, Male, Mating Preference, Animal/physiology, Organ Size, Reproduction/physiology, Salmonidae/anatomy & histology, Salmonidae/embryology, Seasons, Sex Characteristics, Survival Rate
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