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Mol Ecol. 2002 Jan;11(1):91-102.

Male reproductive competition in spawning aggregations of cod (Gadus morhua, L.).

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  • 1Institute of Biological Sciences, Department of Ecology & Genetics, University of Aarhus, DK-8000 Arhus C, Denmark.


Reproductive competition may lead to a large skew in reproductive success among individuals. Very few studies have analysed the paternity contribution of individual males in spawning aggregations of fish species with huge census population sizes. We quantified the variance in male reproductive success in spawning aggregations of cod under experimental conditions over an entire spawning season. Male reproductive success was estimated by microsatellite-based parentage analysis of offspring produced in six separate groups of spawning cod. In total, 1340 offspring and 102 spawnings distributed across a spawning season were analysed. Our results show that multiple males contributed sperm to most spawnings but that paternity frequencies were highly skewed among males, with larger males on average siring higher proportions of offspring. It was further indicated that male reproductive success was dependent on the magnitude of the size difference between a female and a male. We discuss our results in relation to the cod mating system. Finally, we suggest that the highly skewed distribution of paternity success observed in cod may be a factor contributing to the low effective population size/census population size ratios observed in many marine organisms.

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