Breeding success of male brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) in the wild

Mol Ecol. 2003 Sep;12(9):2417-28. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-294x.2003.01917.x.


Competition for females generally results in some males adopting alternative reproductive tactics to acquire matings. For fish, the ecological and evolutionary consequences of these tactics are not well understood because of an inability to link directly the interactions of individuals on the breeding grounds with genetic data. This study combines behavioural observations with genetic estimates of male reproductive success within an intensively studied wild population of lacustrine brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis). Male brook trout exhibit a conditional reproductive strategy with small males adopting a peripheral position to that of larger dominant males in their proximity to spawning females. Parentage analysis of eggs collected from wild redds confirmed the reproductive success of individual males. Males relegated to peripheral positions during spawning participated frequently in spawning events, but in most cases the first male to spawn was the sole contributor, and no more than two males contributed successfully to a single brood. While behavioural observations of salmonines suggests that reproduction is partitioned among males in a manner dependent upon body size and proximity to spawning females, the genetic evidence from this study suggests a more limited distribution of reproductive success in the field. The genetic contributions of male brook trout are highly skewed towards larger males for this population. A review of the salmonine literature suggests little difference in individual reproductive success for males exhibiting size-related tactics within a conditional mating strategy vs. precocial maturation. Collectively, these genetic studies provide new insights on the evolution of alternative life histories among salmonines.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Constitution
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Gene Frequency
  • Male
  • Microsatellite Repeats / genetics
  • Ontario
  • Reproduction / physiology*
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal*
  • Social Dominance*
  • Trout / genetics*
  • Trout / physiology*