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Signalling, Mating Success and Paternal Investment in Sticklebacks (Gasterosteus Aculeatus): a Theoretical Model

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I present an optimisation model that links paternal investment, male display and female choice. Although deviced for sticklebacks, it readily applies to other fish with male guarding behaviour. It relies on a few basic assumptions on the ways hatching success depends on paternal investment and clutch size, and male survival on paternal investment and signaling. Paternal investment is here a state-dependent decision, and signal a condition-dependent handicap by which males inform females of how much they are willing to invest. Series of predictions are derived on female and male breeding strategies, including optimal levels of signaling and paternal investment as functions of clutch size, own condition, and residual reproductive value, as well as alternative strategies such as egg kleptoparasitism. Some predictions already have empirical support, for which the present model provides new interpretations. Other might readily be tested, e.g. by simple clutch-size manipulations.

Affiliations: 1: (University of Bern, Zoologisches Institut, Abt. Verhaltensökologie, Wohlenstrasse 50a, CH-3032 Hinterkappelen, Switzerland


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