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Reproductive Success of Females Limited by Males in Two Pipefish Species
Anders Berglund, Gunilla Rosenqvist and Ingrid Svensson
The American Naturalist
Vol. 133, No. 4 (Apr., 1989), pp. 506-516
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2462085
Page Count: 11
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We investigate whether males limit the reproductive success of females in the two pipefish species Syngnathus typhle and Nerophis ophidion. Syngnathus typhle is sexually monomorphic, and courtship behavior does not differ between the sexes. In N. ophidion, on the contrary, females are larger, more colorful, and more active during courtship, possessing appearance-enlarging skin folds. In both species, males brood the offspring on their bodies, one internally and one externally. Males do not invest more energy in reproduction than do females, and in the sexually dimorphic species, males invest even less than females do. Natural sex ratios are equal in both species. Experimentally, we provided each female with an excess of males (i.e., three), in order to measure a female's maximal reproductive rate, and found that females of both species produced more eggs, or produced them at a faster rate, than naturally available males could care for. Within the time span of one male pregnancy, S. typhle females filled an average of 1.9 males and N. ophidion an average of 1.8 males; both numbers are significantly more than one (which is the average mate availability in natural populations). Measured in another way, during one male pregnancy, S. typhle and N. ophidion females both produced 41% more eggs than needed to fill a male, significantly more than no egg surplus in both species. Therefore, brood space and the rate of embryonic development limit female reproduction in these species. There was no significant difference between the species, however. Syngnathus typhle males might be expected to be less limiting than N. ophidion males, but sexual size dimorphism may be absent in S. typhle because, by contrast with N. ophidion, larger males enjoy greater reproductive success. Directional selection for increased male size may decrease sexual size dimorphism in S. typhle. At any rate, the limitation of the reproductive success of one sex by the other seems to be a necessary but not sufficient prerequisite for the evolution of sexual dimorphism and "sex roles."
The American Naturalist © 1989 The University of Chicago Press