J. R Marentette, J. L Fitzpatrick, R. G Berger, and S. Balshine (2009)
Multiple male reproductive morphs in the invasive round goby (Apollonia melanostoma)
Journal of Great Lakes Research, 35(2):302-308.
Alternative male reproductive tactics are taxonomically widespread. In such species, parental, or conventional, males express secondary sexual characteristics, court females and guard offspring, while smaller parasitic or sneaker males avoid the costs of courtship and parental care by performing sneak fertilizations. Theory predicts that sneakers will invest more in testes mass and produce more competitive ejaculates than parentals because sneakers always experience sperm competition while parental males experience sperm competition only when a sneaker is present. Here we present convergent lines of evidence supporting the existence of alternative male reproductive tactics in round gobies (Apollonia melanostoma, formerly Neogobius melanostomus), a recent invader in the Great Lakes. Dark morph males exhibited secondary sexual characteristics, were larger and had higher plasma 11-ketotestosterone concentrations than light morphs, while light morph males invested more in ejaculates (both testes mass and sperm density). Both male morphs had enlarged urogenital papillae, but papillae were relatively longer in light morph males. Sperm tail length did not differ between morphs, and sperm from dark morphs swam faster than sperm from light morphs. Our data strongly argue for the presence of alternative tactics in round gobies, support some predictions from sperm competition theory and align with empirical observations in other taxa. For species of concern like the invasive round goby, it is critical to consider such evidence of alternative male mating tactics when constructing population growth models and assessment of invasion success and impacts. (C) 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.