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Viability of brown trout embryos positively linked to melanin-based but negatively to carotenoid-based colours of their fathers.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences
'Good-genes' models of sexual selection predict significant additive genetic variation for fitness-correlated traits within populations to be revealed by phenotypic traits. To test this prediction, we sampled brown trout (Salmo trutta) from their natural spawning place, analysed their carotenoid-based red and melanin-based dark skin colours and tested whether these colours can be used to predict offspring viability. We produced half-sib families by in vitro fertilization, reared the resulting embryos under standardized conditions, released the hatchlings into a streamlet and identified the surviving juveniles 20 months later with microsatellite markers. Embryo viability was revealed by the sires' dark pigmentation: darker males sired more viable offspring. However, the sires' red coloration correlated negatively with embryo survival. Our study demonstrates that genetic variation for fitness-correlated traits is revealed by male colour traits in our study population, but contrary to predictions from other studies, intense red colours do not signal good genes.
Animals, Carotenoids/physiology, Female, Genetic Variation, Male, Melanins/physiology, Pigmentation/physiology, Statistics, Nonparametric, Trout/embryology, Trout/genetics
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