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Size and Density Dependent Mating Tactics in the Simultaneously Hermaphroditic Seabass Serranus Subligarius (Cope, 1870)

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This study examines factors within the mating system of Serranus subligarius (belted sandfish) that are likely to maintain simultaneous hermaphroditism as an evolutionarily stable strategy in a highly mobile, high density species. I focus on changes in mating behavior with size. Mating behavior was observed underwater in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico at St. Andrew Bay State Park. Every hermaphrodite can spawn in three roles over the course of the daily spawning period: female pair spawn, male pair spawn, and male streak spawn. Pair spawning fish trade eggs, taking turns fertilizing one another's eggs. Egg trading is not symmetrical; the smaller fish in a pair spawns more often in the female role than the larger fish. Overall, small fish ( 70 mm SL) pair spawn more frequently as females, while large fish ( 80 mm SL) pair spawn more often as males. A size advantage appears to exist for male function. However, large fish usually release at least one egg parcel per spawning

Affiliations: 1: Duke University Marine Laboratory, Beaufort, NC, USA


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