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Effects of salinity on nest-building behaviour in a marine fish

Journal article
Authors Topi K. Lehtonen
Bob B. M. Wong
Charlotta Kvarnemo
Published in BMC Ecology
Volume 16
ISSN 1472-6785
Publication year 2016
Published at Linnaeus Centre for Marine Evolutionary Biology (CEMEB)
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Language en
Links www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/P...
Keywords body size, environmental change, nest-building, parental care, phenotypic plasticity, salinity, sand goby
Subject categories Biological Sciences, Ecology, Marine ecology, Ethology and behavioural ecology, Evolutionary Biology

Abstract

Background: Parental allocation and reproductive success are often strongly influenced by environmental factors. In this respect, salinity is a key factor influencing species distributions and community structure in aquatic animals. Nevertheless, the effects of salinity on reproductive behaviours are not well known. Here, we used the sand goby (Pomatoschistus minutus), a small fish inhabiting a range of different salinities, to experimentally assess the effects of changes in salinity on nesting behaviour, a key component of reproduction in sand gobies and many other taxa. Results: We found that salinity levels influenced some aspects of male nesting behaviour (i.e. nest entrance size) but not others (i.e. latency to build a nest, choice of nest site, sand on top of nest) and that small and large individuals were differently affected. In particular, the importance of body size in adjustment of nest entrance depended on the salinity level. Conclusion: The results support the prediction that geographically widespread aquatic species, such as sand gobies, are able to perform well under a range of salinity levels. The phenotype by environment interaction found between male size and behavioural responses to salinity can, in turn, help to explain the notable variation observed in nest-building (and other) behaviours closely linked to reproduction.

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