3 years ago

Communal pair spawning behaviour of vendace (Coregonus albula) in the dark

Abstract

Mating in nature is rarely random, and most fish species have refined mating systems. The vendace (Coregonus albula) is a short‐lived, small‐sized, cold‐water‐adapted pelagic schooling species that is known to spawn in groups, but the actual mating system of this species, like many other group‐spawning fishes, has not been described in detail. Vendace typically spawn in the littoral or sublittoral zones of lakes in late autumn, and the hatching of larvae occurs close to icebreak in the following spring. In our large study lake, vendace larvae were caught in 93% of 1,149 random sampling locations lake‐wide. We examined the courtship and mating of vendace under experimental conditions by nonintrusive observation of the natural behaviour, to clarify whether spawning activity is associated with illumination and to assess the postspawning mortality of vendace. Here, we describe and document in detail for the first time the spawning behaviour of vendace: they spawn in the dark, and females release a small portion of their eggs (on average 1% of mean total individual fecundity) when the female and male, side by side, dart from near the bottom up towards the surface, that is perform a spawning rise. Males and females had several spawning rises (on average 1,200). Our results showed high postspawning mortality (56%). The spawning stress seems to be a potential component of mortality regulating the lifespan duration of vendace.

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