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Male mate choice, but not female ornamentation, is impaired by turbidity in the straight-nosed pipefish
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Animal ecology.
Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Animal ecology.
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Sexual ornaments are used both in intra- and intersexual contexts, and these signals have evolved to function in the particular habitat the animal is adapted to. Habitat characteristics may change rapidly due to anthropogenic effects, sometimes at rates too fast for many organisms to adaptively respond. In aquatic ecosystems, eutrophication and overfishing is currently changing chemical as well as visual properties of the environment. Algae blooms increase water turbidity, and the reduction of water transparency has the potential to alter visual ornaments and their perception. Here we found that male mate choice, but not the development of female sexual ornaments, was affected by turbidity in the straight-nosed pipefish, Nerophis ophidion. In a laboratory mate choice experiment, males preferred females with larger ornaments in clear water, while mate choice became random under turbid conditions. Female ornamentation, courtship and fecundity, on the other hand, seemed unaffected by turbidity, as no effect was found even though we investigated long-term turbidity effects. Thus, we show that water turbidity had no affect on signal expression but did hamper ornament perception and consequently altered mate choice.

Keyword [en]
Eutrophication, Intersexual selection, Syngnathidae, Status signals
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Biology with specialization in Animal Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-195089OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-195089DiVA: diva2:608497
Available from: 2013-02-27 Created: 2013-02-20 Last updated: 2013-03-22
In thesis
1. Sex in Murky Waters: Anthropogenic Disturbance of Sexual Selection in Pipefish
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Sex in Murky Waters: Anthropogenic Disturbance of Sexual Selection in Pipefish
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Animals experience variation in their environment because of natural changes. However, due to anthropogenic disturbance, the speed and severity of these changes have recently increased. This thesis investigates how reproductive behaviours may be affected by human induced environmental change. In specific, I investigate how visual and chemical changes in the aquatic environment, caused by eutrophication, affect mating systems and sexual selection in fish. Broad-nosed- and straight-nosed pipefish, which both have been studied in detail for a long period, were used as model organisms. These two species are particularly suitable model organisms since they perform complex courtship behaviours, including the advertisement of ornaments and a nuptial dance. Further, two distinct populations were studied, one on the Swedish west coast and one in the Baltic Sea, as these two locations vary in the degree and extent of environmental disturbance, in particular turbidity. I found that changes in the visual environment had no impact on the development of female sexual ornaments in these sex-role reversed pipefishes, but it hampered adaptive mate choice. Turbidity also had a negative effect on reproductive success in the Baltic Sea population. Changes in the chemical environment in the form of increased pH reduced the probability to mate, while hypoxia did not alter mating propensity. However, hypoxic water delayed the onset of both courting and mating. Hence, human induced change in aquatic environments may alter the processes of sexual selection and population dynamics.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2013. 35 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1651-6214 ; 1022
Keyword
Mating system, Mate choice, Courtship, Eutrophication, Turbidity, Hypoxia, Ocean acidification, Syngnathidae
National Category
Natural Sciences
Research subject
Biology with specialization in Animal Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-195861 (URN)978-91-554-8603-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-04-19, Zootissalen, EBC, Villavägen 9, Uppsala, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2013-03-21 Created: 2013-02-27 Last updated: 2013-04-02Bibliographically approved

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