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Anim Behav. 1999 Apr;57(4):777-783.

Male-male competition and female choice in brown trout.

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  • 1Fishery Research Station, National Board of Fisheries, Älvkarleby


In some salmonid species, the females have been assumed to choose their mates on the size of the male's adipose fin. This hypothesis was tested in a stream water aquarium, in which 19 brown trout, Salmo trutta, females were allowed to choose between two males of the same body size but with different adipose fin sizes. The two males were separated from each other in cages. After the female had started to prepare her nest close to one of them, the males were released and allowed to fight each other for the opportunity to spawn. Out of 19 females, 14 prepared a nest closest to the male with the larger adipose fin. However, only six of the 14 females spawned with this male. Males that spawned were more dominant (i.e. were more likely to win fights). When the female spawned with the male she chose, he was less aggressive towards her than when she spawned with the other male. There were no significant differences in the plasma levels of testosterone (T) and 11-ketotestosterone (11-KT) between the chosen males and those not chosen. However, the dominant males had significantly higher plasma levels of T and 11-KT both before and after the experiment. The results support the view that female brown trout exhibit mate choice, but their choice is overruled by male-male competition. Copyright 1999 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.

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