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Sexual competition in an acanthocephalan parasite of fish

  • P. SASAL (a1), E. JOBET (a1), E. FALIEX (a1) and S. MORAND (a1)

Abstract

Acanthocephalans are polygamous parasites of vertebrates and some species are known to aggregate in sexual congress to mate. Such a reproductive behaviour could lead to male–male competition for access to females and could have consequences for sexual selection. We dissected 87 gobiid fish, Gobius bucchichii, harbouring 891 acanthocephalans, Acanthocephaloides propinquus. The parasites were sexed and their body sizes were measured. Testicular volume was also evaluated in 82 males in order to establish their phenotypic sexual investment in relation to the estimated sex ratio. We found that parasite intensity (i.e. the number of individuals/fish) was not correlated with fish size, but that parasite size was significantly related to host size. Our results showed that there was a significant relationship between the mean female body size and their number within one host. We found that when the percentage of male parasites in a host increased, presumably increasing male–male competition for access to females, males had a larger testicular volume. We discuss these results in terms of energy allocation, sexual and sperm competition. We conclude that competition for space should be less important for males than competition for access to females. Moreover, increasing testis size should confer advantages to males especially for their reproductive success when sperm competition occurs.

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Corresponding author

Corresponding author. Tel: 00 33 (0) 468662050. Fax: 00 33 (0) 468662281. E-mail: sasal@univ-perp.fr

Keywords

Sexual competition in an acanthocephalan parasite of fish

  • P. SASAL (a1), E. JOBET (a1), E. FALIEX (a1) and S. MORAND (a1)

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