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Spatial distribution of oviposition sites determines variance in the reproductive rate of European bitterling (Rhodeus amarus)

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We investigated reproductive rate in relation to oviposition site distribution and quality in the European bitterling, Rhodeus amarus, a freshwater fish that spawns on the gills of living unionid mussels. In a laboratory experiment male bitterling led females to groups of four mussels at a significantly higher rate than single mussels, irrespective of mussel species. Females spawned significantly more frequently on the gills of mussels in groups than on solitary mussels, and showed a preference for spawning on the gills of Unio pictorum in comparison with Anodonta anatina. In a field experiment the total number of eggs spawned on the gills of four mussels was significantly higher than that of single mussels, though the mean number of eggs per mussel was equivalent within species. There was a significant effect of species on the number of eggs spawned in mussels; U. pictorum and U. tumidus received more eggs than A. anatina and A. cygnea. We discuss these results in the context of mating system evolution.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Ecology & Vertebrate Zoology, University of Łodz, Banacha 12/16, 90-237 Łodz, Poland; 2: Institute of Vertebrate Biology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Kvěetná 8, 603 65 Brno, Czech Republic; 3: Department of Biology, University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK


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