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Male mate choice in the gynogenetic--sexual complex of crucian carp, Carassius auratus

Hakoyama, H. and Iguchi, K.

The asexual all-female Japanese crucian carp, Carassius auratus langsdorfii (Teleostei: Cypriniformes), reproduces gynogenetically, relying on the sperm of males of the sexual host, C. auratus subspp. Theoretically, frequency-dependent mating preference of males to conspecific females can lead to the coexistence of asexual and sexual fish, if all else is equal. Our specific questions are whether males prefer conspecific females over asexual females and whether individuals show dominance hierarchies that potentially cause frequency-dependent mating preference. In an individual choice experiment, a tank was partitioned into three compartments with the middle one for a single male and the two outer ones for a sexual and an asexual female. The males of C. auratus b{"u}rgeri demonstrated a significant preference for ovulated conspecific females over ovulated asexual females. In contrast, in a group mating experiment, a single experimental tank included two males, a sexual female, and an asexual female together, and males chased and mated with both asexual and sexual females equally. Male mate preference was weak in group mating, which is typical in natural populations. Males and females of crucian carp showed no apparent agonistic behavior to each other in the group mating experiment. This is different from other gynogenetic complexes with the dominance hierarchy of males showing strong frequency-dependent mating preference (e.g., Poeciliopsis). We conclude that male mate preference is unlikely to be a strong frequency-dependent force maintaining the coexistence of asexual--sexual complexes of Japanese crucian carp.

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