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Breeding Competition in a Pacific Salmon (Coho: Oncorhynchus kisutch): Measures of Natural and Sexual Selection

Ian A. Fleming and Mart R. Gross
Evolution
Vol. 48, No. 3 (Jun., 1994), pp. 637-657
DOI: 10.2307/2410475
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2410475
Page Count: 21
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Breeding Competition in a Pacific Salmon (Coho: Oncorhynchus kisutch): Measures of Natural and Sexual Selection
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Abstract

In the breeding system of Pacific salmon, females compete for oviposition territories, and males compete to fertilize eggs. The natural selection in females and sexual selection in males likely has been responsible for their elaborate breeding morphologies and the dimorphism between the sexes. We quantified direct-selection intensities during breeding on mature coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch), measured for seven phenotypic characters, including three secondary sexual characters. Wild and sea-ranched hatchery coho were used to enhance the range of phenotypes over which selection could be examined. The fish were allowed to breed in experimental arenas where we could quantify components of breeding success as well as estimate overall breeding success. We found that without competition, natural selection acts only on female body size for increased egg production; there is no detectable selection on males for the phenotypic distribution we used. Under competition, the opportunity for selection increased sixfold among females. Natural selection favored female body size and caudal-peduncle (tail) depth. Increased body size meant increased egg production and access to nesting territories. The caudal peduncle, used in burst swimming and nest digging, influenced both successful egg deposition and nest survival. Increasing density increased competition among females, though it did not significantly intensify natural selection on their characters. In males, competition increased the opportunity for selection 52-fold, which was nine times greater than for females. Sexual selection favored male body size and hooked snout length, both characters directly influencing male access to spawning opportunities. Selection on male body size was also affected significantly by breeding density. The ability of large males to control access to spawning females decreased at higher densities reflecting an increase in the operational sex ratio. Further, the relative success of small males, which could sneak access to spawning females, appeared to increase as that of intermediate-sized males decreased. Such disruptive selection may be responsible for the evolution of alternative reproductive tactics in salmon.

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