Among-sibling differences in the phenotypes of juvenile fish depend on their location within the egg mass and maternal dominance rank.

Research paper by Tim T Burton, M O MO Hoogenboom, N D ND Beevers, J D JD Armstrong, N B NB Metcalfe

Indexed on: 30 Nov '12Published on: 30 Nov '12Published in: Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society


We investigated whether among-sibling differences in the phenotypes of juvenile fish were systematically related to the position in the egg mass where each individual developed during oogenesis. We sampled eggs from the front, middle and rear thirds of the egg mass in female brown trout of known dominance rank. In the resulting juveniles, we then measured traits that are related to individual fitness: body size, social status and standard metabolic rate (SMR). When controlling for differences among females in mean egg size, siblings from dominant mothers were initially larger (and had a lower mass-corrected SMR) if they developed from eggs at the rear of the egg mass. However, heterogeneity in the size of siblings from different positions in the egg mass diminished in lower-ranking females. Location of the egg within the egg mass also affected the social dominance of the resulting juvenile fish, although the direction of this effect varied with developmental age. This study provides the first evidence of a systematic basis for among-sibling differences in the phenotypes of offspring in a highly fecund organism.