Understanding resource driven female-female competition: ovary and liver size in sand gobies

Aurora García-Berro, Johanna Yliportimo, Kai Lindström, Charlotta Kvarnemo

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The operational sex ratio (OSR, ready-to-mate males to females) is a key factor determining mating  competition. A shortage of a resource essential for reproduction of one sex can affect OSR and lead to  competition within the opposite sex for resource-holding mates. In the sand goby (Pomatoschistus minutus), a  fish with paternal care, male readiness to mate depends on acquiring a nest-site, whereas food abundance  primarily impacts female egg production. Comparing body condition and gonadal investment of fish from two  populations with different availability in resources (Baltic Sea: few nest-sites, more food; North Sea: many  nest-sites, less food), we predicted females carrying more mature eggs in the Baltic Sea than in the North Sea. As predicted, ovaries were larger in Baltic Sea females, and so was the liver (storage of energy reserves  and vitellogenic compounds) for both sexes, but particularly for females. More females were judged (based on roundness scores) to be ready to spawn in the Baltic Sea. Together with a nest colonization experiment confirming a previously documented difference between the two areas in nest-site availability,  these results indicate a more female-biased OSR in the Baltic Sea population, compared to the North Sea,  and generates a prediction that female–female competition for mating opportunities is stronger in the Baltic  population. To our knowledge, this is the first time that female reproductive investment is discussed in relation to OSR using field data.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number190886
Publication statusPublished - 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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