Evol Ecol Res 6: 843-855 (2004)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Sex allocation in the sex-changing marine goby, Coryphopterus personatus, on atoll-fringing reefs

David J. Allsop* and Stuart A. West

Institute of Cell, Animal and Population Biology, University of Edinburgh, King’s Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JT, UK

Address all correspondence to David J. Allsop, School of Biological Sciences, A08, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.
e-mail: david.allsop@bio.usyd.edu.au


Sex allocation theory applied to sex-changing animals predicts that the amount of sex change and the proportion of individuals that mature early as the second sex depend upon the mating system of the species or population in question. In turn, theory suggests that the mating system is governed by the size and distribution of resources critical to reproduction, and by population density. Here we investigate the social and ecological factors that govern the amount of selection for sex change and the production of alternative male strategies in a protogynous (female first) goby, Coryphopterus personatus, on atoll-fringing reefs in Belize. We found that: (1) increasing population density leads to an increase in the proportion of early maturing males on leeward-facing reefs, as predicted, but not on windward reefs; (2) contrary to predictions, the proportion of early maturing males was higher on continuously distributed coral gardens than on isolated patches of reef in windward locations, with no difference in leeward locations; and (3) the proportion of early maturing males can be used as a predictor of the population sex ratio, with less biased sex ratios occurring with a higher proportion of early maturing males, as predicted by theory. We discuss these conflicting results in terms of the differences between windward and leeward reefs that might lead to differing selective regimes acting in these locations.

Keywords: sequential hermaphrodite, sex allocation, sex change, sex ratio, teleost fish.

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