In the conditional strategy model, divergence in reproductive phenotypes depends on whether the individual's condition is above or below a genetically determined threshold. The relative contribution of the genetic and environmental components that lead to the expression of a reproductive tactic by an individual is not well understood. In the present field study, we determined when condition diverged between males that develop the mature parr phenotype and those that do not in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). We also investigated the uniformity of the threshold value in the population. We sampled mature parr and immature males at age one, of the same population at six different sites for four consecutive years. Our study provides an example of the interaction of genotype and environment on the expression of a reproductive tactic. Size was significantly greater for future mature parr than for future immature males as early as 20 days after hatching (emergence), suggesting that there may be a parental effect component in the tactic adopted, since no exogenous feeding takes place before this time. Size advantage at emergence was maintained through the next spring at age one to different degrees depending on the year, thus suggesting the presence of an environmental component of tactic expression. Our results support the contention that within the conditional strategy, the environment faced by a male and his condition at the moment of reproduction consistently predicts neither the environment faced by his offspring nor the fitness they will obtain by expressing the same tactic as their father. Furthermore, higher mean size at a site did not always translate into a higher proportion of mature parr, therefore supporting the hypothesis that thresholds vary across habitats within the same population.
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Vol. 58 • No. 1