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Earlier Sex Change in Infected Individuals of the Protogynous Reef Fish Thalassoma bifasciatum

Lukas Schärer and Dita B. Vizoso
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Vol. 55, No. 2 (Dec., 2003), pp. 137-143
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25063333
Page Count: 7
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Earlier Sex Change in Infected Individuals of the Protogynous Reef Fish Thalassoma bifasciatum
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Abstract

Sex allocation theory for sequential hermaphrodites predicts the size at which an individual should change sex, given the different relationships between individual size and reproductive success in the two sexes. We studied a host-parasite system where the myxozoan Kudoa ovivora infects the ovaries of the reef fish Thalassoma bifasciatum, a protogynous sequential hermaphrodite. The parasite sporulates in the host's eggs and renders them infertile. It is thus expected to reduce the female's reproductive success, and could thereby influence host sex change. We present data from marked fish we observed in the field over 4 months. The data suggest that females infected with Kudoa ovivora have a lower reproductive success, change sex earlier and at a smaller size than uninfected females. These results are in agreement with predictions from sex allocation theory, and provide the first example of a possible parasitic influence on the sex allocation of its host.

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