Lunar cycles of reproduction in the clown anemonefish Amphiprion percula: individual-level strategies and population-level patterns
Seymour, Jeremiah R.
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Lunar cycles of reproduction are a widespread phenomenon in marine invertebrates and vertebrates. It is common practice to infer the adaptive value of this behavior based on the population level pattern. This practice may be flawed if individuals within the population are employing different reproductive strategies. Here, we capitalize on a long-term field study and a carefully controlled laboratory experiment of individually identifiable clown anemonefish, Amphiprion percula, to investigate the individual reproductive strategies underlying population-level patterns of reproduction. The field data reveal that A. percula exhibit a lunar cycle of reproduction at the population level. Further, the field data reveal that there is naturally occurring variation among individuals and within individuals in the number of times they reproduce per month. The laboratory experiment reveals that the number of times individuals reproduce per month is dependent on their food availability. Individuals are employing a conditional strategy, breeding once, twice or thrice per month, depending on resource availability. Breaking down the population level pattern by reproductive tactic, we show that each reproductive tactic has its own non-random lunar cycle of reproduction. Considering the adaptive value of these cycles, we suggest that all individuals, regardless of tactic, may avoid reproducing around the new moon. Further, individuals may avoid breeding in synchrony with each other, because of negative frequency dependent selection at the time of settlement. Most importantly, we conclude that determining what individuals are doing is a critical step toward understanding the adaptive value of lunar cycles of reproduction.