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Spawn Seasons

     The spawning season for the orangethroat darter is relatively variable among populations located at different latitudes. In lower latitude populations (Texas), the spawning season can last more than 7 months, from the end of October to July.  In higher latitude populations (Missouri), the spawning season is dramatically shortened lasting only a few months from March to May.  Northern latitude populations near Michigan have two month long spawning seasons lasting from April to the beginning of June. This is the nearly the highest latitude that this species can effectively reproduce any offspring (Hubbs 1985).

Female Darter.

Figure 1. Male orangethroat darter. Photograph. © Ohio.gov female orangethroat darter

Figure 2. Female orangethroat darter.
Photograph. © Ohio.gov

Mate Selection
     According to a study conducted by Mark Pyron (1995), the  female orangethroat darter (E. spectabile) doesn’t seem to be influenced by male size, color, or male-male dominance behavior. Although females don’t prefer a larger sized or more colorful male, sexual dimorphism does exist within this species in regards to color (Figures 1 and 2). During spawning, male-male competition was relatively low: larger sized males did show aggression toward competing males but the large and small size spawning frequencies were relatively the same (Pyron 1995).
     Pyron observed that the spawning patterns of E. specatibile were based more on opportunity than specific mate selection; majority of the spawns that were initiated occurred when only one male happened to be near the female. Although one male may have initiated the spawning with another female, sperm competition was high within this species: multiple males competing for one female.

     The spawning process is quite simple as well. When the female is ready to spawn, she buries herself into the substrate of the spawning site and then the male locates himself above her and they both release their gametes (1995). Fertilization occurs within the substrate.
Parental Behavior
     Once the spawning activity has occurred, male and female individuals don't care for their young; orangethroat darters don’t defend or nurture their young through development as some other aquatic fish species are known to do. They have no parental care of their young at anytime during development. Many fish species do defend and nurture their young in the early stages of development to some extent, but the E. spectabile is a perfect example of a fish species that offers no care to their young (Pyron 1995).


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