Evidence for seasonal mate limitation in populations of an intertidal amphipod,Corophium volutator(Pallas)

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Abstract

Potential rates of reproduction (PRR) differ between the sexes of many animal species. Adult sex ratios together with PRR are expected to determine the operational sex ratio (OSR) defined as the ratio of fertilizable females to sexually active males at any given time. OSR is expected to determine the degree to which one sex competes for another—the limiting sex. We explored the potential for mate limitation in an intertidal amphipod, Corophium volutator (Pallas). Males have higher PRR than females, but males may be limiting because of extreme female-biased sex ratios observed in this species. Consistent with this idea, late season females were less likely to be ovigerous and had smaller size-specific clutches, both of which were associated with seasonal declines in availability of males of reproductive size. Seasonal changes in ovigery could not be explained by seasonal changes across sites in other factors (e.g., female body size or phenology of breeding). Smaller females were less likely to become ovigerous later in the season at three of four sites. Seasonal reductions in clutch size also occurred among small females expected to be reproducing for their first time. In complimentary laboratory experiments, reduced likelihood of ovigery and reduced fecundity occurred when the number of receptive females was increased relative to availability of a reproductively active male. Our results suggest male mate limitation can occur seasonally in this species and that male limitation is regionally widespread and may affect recruitment.

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