Size-independent age effects on reproductive effort in a small, short-lived fish

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1. Age-related changes in reproductive effort have been predicted by theoretical models and observed in a wide range of organisms. However, for indeterminate growers such as fish, an allometric relationship linking gonad weight to body size is commonly observed. There is often a positive linear relationship when these variables are log-transformed, which by implication reduces the influence of age on reproductive effort. 2. Contrasting with this usual pattern, we report a nonlinear relationship between gonad weight and fish size (after log-transformation) in mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki), clearly resulting from age changes. The declining rate of increase of gonad mass as a function of body size revealed a higher reproductive effort for younger individuals relative to size. 3. This size-independent age effect on reproductive effort was predicted based on previous studies of mosquitofish and is certainly related to their particular life-history strategy, combining an early maturation and short lifespan with the physiological costs of reproduction and over-wintering. Our findings probably apply to other small, short-lived species with similar life history ​
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