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Journal Article

Within-season variation in sexual selection in a fish with dynamic sex roles


Mobley,  Kenyon B.
Department Evolutionary Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Wacker, S., Amundsen, T., Forsgren, E., & Mobley, K. B. (2014). Within-season variation in sexual selection in a fish with dynamic sex roles. Molecular Ecology, 23(14), 3587-3599. doi:10.1111/mec.12826.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0019-F015-8
The strength of sexual selection may vary between species, among populations and within populations over time. While there is growing evidence that sexual selection may vary between years, less is known about variation in sexual selection within a season. Here, we investigate within-season variation in sexual selection in male twospotted gobies (Gobiusculus flavescens). This marine fish experiences a seasonal change in the operational sex ratio from male- to female-biased, resulting in a dramatic decrease in male mating competition over the breeding season. We therefore expected stronger sexual selection on males early in the season. We sampled nests and nestholding males early and late in the breeding season and used microsatellite markers to determine male mating and reproductive success. We first analysed sexual selection associated with the acquisition of nests by comparing nest-holding males to population samples. Among nest-holders, we calculated the potential strength of sexual selection and selection on phenotypic traits. We found remarkable within-season variation in sexual selection. Selection on male body size related to nest acquisition changed from positive to negative over the season. The opportunity for sexual selection among nest-holders was significantly greater early in the season rather than late in the season, partly due to more unmated males. Overall, our study documents a within-season change in sexual selection that corresponds with a predictable change in the operational sex ratio. We suggest that many species may experience within-season changes in sexual selection and that such dynamics are important for understanding how sexual selection operates in the wild.