To produce many small or few large eggs: a size-independent reproductive tactic of fish

Carlos M. Duarte*, Miguel Alcaraz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

173 Scopus citations


We demonstrate here the existence of a range of size-independent reproductive tactics in teleostean fish involving the allocation of a size-dependent reproductive effort between fecundity and egg size. Despite considerable evidence that larger eggs and the larvae hatching from them are more likely to survive than smaller ones, we found no evidence of evolutionary trends towards greater egg sizes. Fish with pelagic eggs tend to spawn many, and therefore small, eggs, whereas demersal spawners tend to produce large, and therefore few, eggs. Maximizing egg number should increase the number of eggs hatching in suitable locations in the patchy pelagic environment and, hence, increase the reproductive success of pelagic spawners. On the other hand, the reproductive success of demersal spawners, which reduce the variance in growing conditions experienced by the off spring, should be more dependent on the survival of the individual larvae, which increases as egg size increases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)401-404
Number of pages4
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • Fish eggs
  • Pelagic-demersal eggs
  • Reproductive tactics
  • Teleostean fish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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