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Plainfin midshipman

The plainfin midshipman (Porichthys notatus) is a nocturnally-active marine fish distributed along the Pacific coast of North America, from Alaska to Mexico. In the winter plainfin midshipman are found in deep water but will migrate up to the shallow intertidal zone in the breeding season (spring and summer). Plainfin midshipman prefer to nest under rocks in sheltered, rocky shores. We sample their nests at low tide throughout the breeding season where we can easily collect tissues, embryos and nest characteristics from many fish across our different beaches and populations. The plainfin midshipman is a fascinating fish species for many reasons but one of the most interesting features of this species is that there are two  distinct male reproductive tactics, called guarder “type I” and sneaker “type II” males. The guarding type I males aggressively compete for nest sites, which are excavated areas under rocks. The largest guarding males win the largest rock/nest sites and gain the most eggs. In contrast, sneaker type II males do not guard nests or court females, but instead, steal fertilizations from guarding males by either sneaking deep into the nest when a female is present, or by fanning sperm into the nest from the periphery. 

We have been using plainfin midshipman to study sperm competition, impacts of contaminants on gonads, parental care, tactic evolution, life history, diet and cannibalism.


Photo Gallery button  See our work on plainfin midshipman P. notatus Photo gallery


Here are a few representative ABEL papers on this species:


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