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J Hered. 2001 Mar-Apr;92(2):100-10.

The evolution of bourgeois, parasitic, and cooperative reproductive behaviors in fishes.

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  • 1KLIVV, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna.


Among vertebrate classes, fishes exhibit by far the greatest variability in competitive and cooperative behaviors in male reproduction. Scramble competition between reproductive males is one possibility. Another possibility occurs when resources, mates, or locations can be monopolized, in which case males may invest in primary access to fertilizations by adopting a "bourgeois" strategy, or they may employ alternative mating tactics to evade the reproductive monopoly of other males. Adaptations in morphology, physiology, and behavior to bourgeois and alternative phenotypes are highly divergent. Here I review the functional characteristics that differ between bourgeois and parasitic phenotypes, and discuss the variability of alternative reproductive tactics at the levels of plasticity, determination, and selection. Examples will illustrate the importance of ecology, and will suggest that variation in reproductive tactics is largely adaptive. Behavioral solutions to competition for mates and fertilizations often involve agonistic behavior and conflict, but also cooperation among competitors (e.g., when subordinate males pay a price to bourgeois males for gaining access to fertilizable eggs). Application of molecular genetic tools has helped to uncover intricate sexual and social relationships in various fish species, including species that display some of the most complex reproductive and social patterns known among the vertebrates.

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