Evolution | Population Biology | Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology
Sex differences in seasonal timing include differences in hatch- or birth-date distribution and differences in the timing of migration or maturation such as protandrous arrival timing (PAT), which is early male arrival at breeding sites. I describe a novel form of protandrous arrival timing, as a sex difference in birth-date distribution in a live-bearing fish (Dwarf Perch, Micrometrus minimus). In this species, birth coincides with arrival at breeding sites because newborn males are sexually active. A series of samples of pregnant females and young of year was collected in Tomales Bay, CA. I analyzed the daily age record in otoliths to estimate the conception date of broods and the age that young-of-year individuals were born. Males were born at a younger age than females, as indicated by the daily age record and also by the predominance of females in broods from which some young had already been born, which was a common occurrence in pregnant females with older embryos. Sex ratio of broods varied with conception date such that early-season broods were predominantly male, possibly as a result of temperature-dependent sex determination. The combined effects of the sex difference in age at birth and seasonal shift in sex ratio were to shift the mean birth date of males relative to females by five days. The most likely ultimate explanation for PAT in the Dwarf Perch is that it arises from exploitation (scramble) competition for mating opportunities among recently-born young-of-year males.
Schultz, Eric T., "A sex difference in seasonal timing of birth in a livebearing fish" (2008). EEB Articles. 13.
Published in Copeia 2008: 674-680. DOI: 10.1643/CE-07-168