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Jennifer A Young, Sigal Balshine, and David J Earn (2023)

Modelling the Impacts of Male Alternative Reproductive Tactics on Population Dynamics

Royal Society Interface.

Observations of male alternative reproductive tactics (ARTs) in a variety of species have stimulated the development of mathematical models that can account for the evolution and stable co-existence of multiple male phenotypes. However, little attention has been given to the population dynamic consequences of ARTs. We present a population model that takes account of the existence of two male ARTs (guarders and sneakers), assuming that tactic frequencies are environmentally determined and tactic reproductive success depends on the densities of both types. The presence of sneakers typically reduces overall population density. However, in the extreme that there are many more sneakers than guarders, it is possible for the total population density to rise higher than it would in the absence of sneakers (in this extreme regime, there is also an Allee effect, i.e., a threshold density below which the population will go extinct). We apply the model to the example of the invasive round goby (Neogobius melanostomus). We argue that ARTs can dramatically influence population dynamics and suggest that considering such phenotypic plasticity in population models is potentially important, especially for species of conservation or commercial importance.

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