Fake spawns and floating particles: a rebuttal of Karkarey et al. “Alternative reproductive tactics and inverse size‑assortment in a high‑density fish spawning aggregation”

Courtship and spawning behaviors of coral reef fishes are very complex, and sufficient sampling effort and proper methods are required to draw informed conclusions on their mating systems that are grounded in contemporary theories of mate choice and sexual selection. We reviewed the recent study by Karkarey et al. (BMC Ecol 17:10, 2017) on the spawning behavior of Squaretail coralgrouper (Plectropomus areolatus) from India and found no evidence to support their findings of alternative reproductive tactics, unique school-spawning involving a single male with multi- ple females, or inverse size-assortment. The study lacks scientific credibility due to a lack of rigor in the methodology used, misinterpretation of observed behaviors, misinterpretation of the literature, and insufficient data. Their approach led the authors to produce spurious results and profound, invalid conclusions that violate the most basic assumptions of mate choice and sexual selection theory as applied to mating systems in marine fishes.


Brad E. Erisman, João P. Barreiros, Kevin L. Rhodes and Robert R. Warner

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