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Heredity (Edinb). 2001 Jun;86(Pt 6):675-84.

The influence of male parr body size and mate competition on fertilization success and effective population size in Atlantic salmon.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4 J1, Canada.


Alternative mating strategies in male Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar, are characterized by variability in body size and mate competition. Controlling breeding numbers of larger, older anadromous males, we examined whether body size of mature male parr influenced fertilization success and whether such an association was affected by mate competition among parr. Variation at three to four hypervariable microsatellite loci was used to determine individual paternity of 53-60 offspring from two or three nests from each experimental treatment. Although individual and total parr reproductive success differed significantly among nests within treatments, there was no relationship between parr size and individual reproductive success at any level of competition when anadromous males were involved. However, in a single treatment having no anadromous male, the influence of body size on parr fertilization success was highly significant. Combining data from all treatments, parr body size was an important predictor of the probability of an individual being involved in spawning. We found a negative relationship between total parr reproductive success and intensity of anadromous male competition. To our knowledge, the present study is the first to estimate the effective number of males from individual fertilization success in fish. Our estimates of Ne should not be taken as absolute and may have a downward bias because we did not sample all nests and we used a proxy for lifetime reproductive success. They do, however, illustrate how mature male parr can greatly increase the effective number of males when the latter is estimated from anadromous individuals alone. Although reproductive success by mature male parr increases the effective number of males, this increase seems likely to be most pronounced in natural populations when the number of anadromous males is low.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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